ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A biologist with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) says St. Johns County is seeing a very early sea turtle nesting season this year.
The official season begins May 1 but this weekend the agency got a call about a nest in St. Johns County. GTM NEER Biologist Scott Eastman says he believes this is the earliest documented Leatherback nest in northeast Florida since the state began reporting nesting data in 1989.
"This nest is the first nest of the 2012 nesting season in northeast Florida, specifically St. Johns County," said Eastman, who received the call from a volunteer who was walking the beach and was surprised to find the nest.
Leatherback sea turtles are the largest species of marine turtles and the largest reptile in the world, according to GTM NERR. Leatherbacks are listed in the U.S. as endangered. They travel thousands of miles across open oceans through strong currents.
First Coast News reporter Jessica Clark is working today to learn more about the early nesting season and will have a report on First Coast News at 6 p.m.