The Loggerhead Marinelife Center took pictures of the large female laying in the sand on Singer Island Beach in South Florida. The center said it’s not known why some turtles choose to nest during the day, noting that it’s “a rare occurrence.”
A rehab technician took measurements of the leatherback, the largest sea turtle species currently living, through a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the organization said. It also warned that witnesses should keep their distance from a nesting female so she can lay her eggs safely and successfully.
While the size and weight of the turtle weren’t immediately clear, a leatherback can grow to more than seven feet in length and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds, according to National Geographic.
The leatherback gets its name from its unique shell of “tough, rubbery skin,” according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. It’s the only type of sea turtle that doesn’t have a hard shell. Its diet consists largely of jellyfish and other soft-bodied marine life, the group said.
The species is considered vulnerable to extinction, threatened by extreme egg collection and fisheries bycatch, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.