Massive leatherback sea turtle spotted nesting on Florida beach

Massive leatherback sea turtle spotted nesting on Florida beach

A massive 800-pound endangered leatherback sea turtle delighted visitors at a Florida beach ahead of Memorial Day weekend when they saw it nesting near the waterfront. A University of Central Florida (UCF) turtle researcher named David Rodriguez was surveying the beach Thursday morning when he encountered a group of people watching the gigantic animal, Fox 13 reported . Local deputies arrived to stand guard over the endangered creature’s nest. (Courtesy: Shelly Michel) Kate Mansfield, an associate professor at UCF, later tweeted that the turtle had been tagged in 2016 in Juno and was named Vienna. Leatherbacks are endangered, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . And even so, they are usually seen at nighttime, not in the sunlight, Rodriguez told Fox 13. “It was something of an anomaly,” he told the outlet. “You never seen those leatherbacks in the daytime. Even at night it is a chance. It was amazing.” MEMORIAL DAY SEES MAGA BOAT PARADES, BUSY BARS AND BOARDWALK SHOOTINGS AS AMERICANS ADAPT TO CHANGING SOCIAL DISTANCING NORMS Shelley Michel, a local photographer, heard about the sighting and rushed to the scene to document the rare occurrence. Her images show three local deputies standing guard, protecting the endangered animal’s nest. “She is beautiful,” Michel says in her video. “I can’t believe after years of trying, I finally got to see one.” (Courtesy: Shelly Michel) Her shell measured 43 inches, the Palm Beach Post reported. Leatherbacks can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds, according to the wildlife service, making Vienna relatively small, even if she left a huge impression on the people who saw her. The main staple of a leatherback’s diet consists of jellyfish, but they also eat sea urchins, squid, crustaceans, fish, algae and seaweed, experts say. […]

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