Rare 800-pound sea turtle found nesting in Brevard

Species can make only 200 nests a year in Florida

Courtesy Laura Henning

An 800-pound endangered leatherback sea turtle nests at the Canaveral National Seashore on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE, Fla. - Endangered sea turtles typically nest at night, but Laura Henning, a park ranger at Canaveral National Seashore, captured a rare sight on Tuesday.

She shot video of an 800-pound leatherback sea turtle nesting at the national park, in broad daylight.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today said leatherbacks are among the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world. They also are the largest and can grow to 8 feet in length. They make only about 200 nests in Florida annually.

"It is rare that they nest in the daytime, the only one that usually nests in the day is the Kemp's Ridley, which we only get one of every so often," Henning said via email. Those are the most endangered species of sea turtle in Florida and mostly nest on the Gulf Coast.

People should stay at least 100 feet from any nesting sea turtle, Henning said, and well below on the beach from where the turtle is nesting.

Canaveral National Seashore already has 11 leatherback nests so far this year. That's a good start.

"The most we've ever had is 27 (nests)," Henning said.

Canaveral National Seashore has between 3,000 and 7,000 sea turtle nests per summer.

Reservations for Turtle Watch programs begin June 10. You can make reservations by phone beginning May 15 at 9 a.m. at 386-4280-3384 for both Apollo district, in New Smyrna Beach; and Playalinda, in Titusville.

The Sea Turtle Preservation Society also begins taking reservations in May for its nighttime turtle walks. Call 321-676-1701 to make reservations for the current season.

Canaveral National Seashore is planning its fifth annual Titusville Sea Turtle Festival partnering with the city, downtown merchants and Friends of Canaveral for June 12-13.

The event will include educational booths, live music, children's activity area and Junior Ranger program in seashore. The event is intended as the kickoff for the National Parks Service Centennial Find Your Park campaign.

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