You might wonder, looking at this map, how it’s possible we expect this race to last into the spring. We all have to admit that Mignonnette is motoring. We are pretty certain she’s headed toward French Guiana. When we tagged her at the beginning of August off Cape Breton Island, our team found a French Guiana PIT in her shoulder muscle. PIT stands for “passive integrated transponder.” PITs are the same microchips that your vet might use to mark your dog or cat. Researchers implant them in leatherbacks’ shoulder muscles as a way of identifying individual animals.
But despite her speed at this point, Mignonnette won’t haul up on a beach anytime soon. None of these leatherbacks is likely to nest earlier than March. Bulked up on Canadian jellies, they cover incredible distances in a relatively short timeframe before reaching waters off the nesting beaches, where they’ll hang out again to feed.
This is a photo of Mignonnette that Devan, our turtle technician, took when we satellite tagged her.