Puerto Rico's first nest this year of the leatherback, the largest sea turtle on the planet, was reported at a northern beach of the Caribbean island, officials said.

The nest was found Sunday in front of the Isla Verde Marine Reserve in Carolina, a city neighboring San Juan, Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Carmen Guerrero Perez said in a statement.

The nest was found by community volunteers, together with personnel from the secretariat and police, as the beaches were being given a cleanup organized by the Pro-Ecological Corridor of the Northeast Coalition," Guerrero Perez said.

More than 11 community groups, trained and authorized by the secretariat, are keeping a watchful eye on leatherback habitats to count and protect their nests everywhere on Puerto Rico's beaches.

Leatherbacks come to the tropics to reproduce - they are highly migratory and live in North Atlantic waters off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Canada, and have been documented north of the Azores.

The leatherback turtle's nesting season lasts from February until June.

The population of the species has remained stable in Puerto Rico, though on some beaches in particular, such as Culebra, the number of nests has declined.

However, this is expected to be a bumper year for nests, the secretariat said. EFE