Sunday, June 12, 2011

Biologists sneak up and dig holes for nesting turtle who had flippers eaten by sharks

Leatherback turtle “Clover” has a very unfortunate history. She has been nesting in the Juno Beach area of Florida since 2003. When Loggerhead Marinelife Center biologists first found Clover, she was missing a rear flipper from what appeared to be a shark attack. This caused her a manageable amount of difficulty nesting.

When Clover returned in 2005, she was missing a portion of her other rear flipper. Finally, in 2007, Clover returned with no rear flippers. All of these injuries appear to be due to shark bites. She has scars on her front flippers that resemble shark jaws as well.

The action doesn't really start until 1:55.

YouTube link.

Sea turtles use their rear flippers to dig the chamber in which they place their eggs. Because Clover doesn’t understand that her rear flippers are missing, she tries to nest normally. When it comes time to drop her eggs, they end up on the surface of the sand behind and underneath her. Without assistance, Clover crushes her eggs in an attempt to camouflage her nest.

When LMC biologists find Clover, they dig her egg chamber for her by sneaking up behind her as she is “digging” and removing the sand for her. Biologists have helped Clover nest six times so far this year. They caught this amazing video of Clover nesting.

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