The first leatherback sea turtle nest of the season has been documented in Juno Beach.
Biologists found and marked the nest—considered to be the first in Florida and, likely, the United States—just south of the Juno Beach pier on Feb. 24.
It’s the earliest documented nest found on the nearly 10-mile stretch of beach monitored by Loggerhead Marinelife Center since 2006, according to a representative for the organization. Researchers don’t usually see any leatherback sea turtle nests until March.
The discovery signals surveyors to be on the lookout for the critically endangered animals on other nearby beaches, particularly because Martin and Palm Beach counties are the epicenter of leatherback sea turtle nesting in the continental U.S., the Loggerhead representative explained.
Sea turtle nesting season runs from March 1 through Oct. 31. Last year, Loggerhead Marinelife Center documented 213 leatherback nests from the northern Palm Beach County line south to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.
In addition to leatherbacks, area beaches are also home to loggerhead and green sea turtles.
See a photo of the marked nest, below: