Lefty returns a fifth time to nest.
Photo courtesy of Peter Tyson/Earthwatch Institute
Lefty Is Back!
by Meg Warren

Remember Lefty? The turtle with only half a left flipper? She has returned, and not just once, but two times since early November when I first saw her and five times since October 1.

Matt, one of the graduate students and an expedition team member, discovered her and collected the data on November 29. When he scanned her left shoulder, he found out that her PIT Tag was Number 003-361-291. He then took measurements. She was of average size — 150 cm long and 107 cm wide.

Matt also recorded the times at which he observed the different phases of her nesting behavior.

Turtle's Activity (24 hour clock):

  • Emerging: time not recorded
  • Digging body pit: 22:05
  • Digging egg chamber: 22:17
  • Laying eggs: 22:40
  • Covering nest: 23:00
  • Returning to sea: time not recorded

Again her half left flipper did not seem to prevent her from digging a deep egg chamber to lay her eggs. This time she laid 85 yolked eggs and 58 yolkless at a spot about 400 meters from the nest that she made on November 9.

All together Lefty has nested five times this season and laid a total of 431 yolked eggs. Unfortunately her first nest of about 82 yolked and 50 yolkless eggs laid on October 1 was washed out.

The second nest laid on October 12 (91 yolked; 30 yolkless) was one of the first clutches to be moved to the beach hatchery. This clutch is likely to be one of the first to hatch in the next two weeks. How many hatchlings will emerge? Will they be males or females? We'll find out soon!