POMPANO BEACH (CBS4) – Some South Florida beachgoers had a rare encounter Tuesday with a massive leatherback turtle.
People on Pompano Beach said the turtle – estimated to weigh about 400 pounds – came ashore around 2:30 this afternoon and begin digging a hole, apparently preparing to lay her eggs.
We’re told the turtle spent about an hour and a half on the beach, did not lay any eggs and traveled back into the ocean.
The leatherback turtle is endangered but sea turtle experts say they do see a dozen or so leatherback nests in South Florida each year.
For those who witnessed the scene Tuesday, they said it was a sight to behold.
“If it had a steering wheel, I could of drove it home. It was like huge that thing,” said Tony Mucci.
Other saw it as a reminder of why sea turtles need protection.
“I think we need to do a little bit more for them here. I know they dim the lights out but I think there’s a lot more that can be done to keep our endangered species here,” said Stella Fava, who videotaped the turtle’s adventure onto the beach.
Sea turtle volunteers who work to protect nests on South Florida beaches say it’s rare even for them to see leatherbacks.
We are told that leatherbacks often nest in the daytime because they are less apprehensive about coming out of the water.
The hope is the turtle will return to the beach later tonight to lay her eggs when things quiet down.