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Leatherback sea turtle nests unsuccessful in Sarasota County

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A rare leatherback sea turtle, moves off the beach at the Isle of Palms, S.C., on Thursday, March 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Four leatherback sea turtle nests discovered in Sarasota County have been deemed “unsuccessful,” according to Mote Marine Laboratory.

Researchers discovered two of the nests in Venice and Sarasota, but none of the exact locations were ever disclosed to keep the eggs safe from harm.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory Public Relations Manager Stephannie Kettle, it’s difficult to determine what happened, but said some of the nests had water damage.

“And others…most likely, the female never mated so they were not fertilized eggs is what it looks like,” she told 8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth by phone on Wednesday. “Her likelihood of being out, cruising around and finding a mate – she may have not found a mate, [leatherback turtles] are not as common here on the Gulf Coast.”

Kettle confirmed genetic samples were taken from all four nests. The samples will be sent off to confirm all nests were laid by the same female. Mote Marine Laboratory believes they were, due to the timing.

Mote Marine biologists did spot the leatherback turtle on the beach twice at night as she was laying her third nest.

Kettle says they were able to put flipper tags on her rear flippers, as well as a pit tag, which is like a microchip for a pet.

If the turtle nests somewhere else and other researchers spot her and get her flipper tag number or scan her microchip, that information could be very useful to Mote.

Biologists were not able to put a satellite tag on the turtle to be able to track her in real-time.

This is only the second time leatherback nests had been documented in the county’s history. The last leatherback sea turtle nest discovered in Sarasota County was in 2001.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 949 leatherback turtle nests were reported state-wide last year.

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