Researchers Tracked A Solitary Leatherback That Rode Out Hurricane Florence

Imagine that you are a leatherback turtle. Flippers? Check. Weird beak? Check. Big ol’ shell? You betcha. You’re swimming along, minding your own business, snacking on various squids and jellyfishes as you come across them. You find yourself in need of oxygen. No matter: a big lungful of air is just a short jaunt to the surface away. ‘Oh shit!’ you exclaim in turtlese. You have found yourself in the midst of the monstrous seas thrown up by the passage of a hurricane.

[jwplayer gvkTjsCy]

This was the (lightly dramatised) experience of a turtle named Isla, who was tracked by researchers as she attempted to navigate the outer edges of Hurricane Florence. Isla was tagged with a transmitter back in May of this year, as part of a project by Florida Leatherbacks Inc and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to monitor the feeding, travelling, and nesting habits of leatherbacks.

The researchers first noticed that she would potentially be in the path of the hurricane last week when she was around 40 kilometres off the coast of Virginia. They expected that she would attempt to move out to deeper waters to avoid the worst of the storm.

Which she promptly did:

Somewhat paradoxically, the search for deeper water ended up putting her even closer to the storm, putting her in even bigger surf as the hurricane made landfall:

Luckily, she managed to get out just fine. What an absolute legend.