Chasing Giants Saving Florida's Leatherback Sea Turtles
Florida Leatherback Project Continues Long-Term Study of Florida’s Leatherback Turtle Population
Kelly Martin, Project Biologist
Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are an endangered species. They are the largest species of sea turtle, often reaching over 1,000 pounds. Here in Florida, their nest counts and the number of individual nesting turtles are increasing.

Fortunately, leatherback nest numbers in Florida have steadily climbed from a few dozen nests in the
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Sandra Wallace, Kelly Martin, Valerie Caruso, Sandy Fournies accept $5,000 from the National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation in support of their leatherback research.
1980’s to over 1,000 today. To better understand this rapidly growing population, it was crucial to begin a nightly tagging program that utilizes hands-on research to answer important research questions. Research efforts have covered northern Palm Beach County, a critical leatherback nesting beach, since 2001. Beginning in 2014, the team expanded these efforts to Martin County, which hosts the densest leatherback nesting beaches in Florida. This study uses tagging records to monitor the status and health of this critical population. By tagging each individual turtle and documenting each encounter with her over the years, this team of biologists has been able to address many of the important questions about leatherback survival and population status that were previously unknown. To date, over 600 individual females have been tagged and identified.

Florida Leatherbacks Inc. (FLI) is a Florida based nonprofit established to conduct research to help preserve threatened and endangered sea turtle populations. Visit for more information.
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