A green sea turtle released by the Cayman Turtle Farm 17 years ago recently became the first turtle to have a satellite transmitter attached to it for the purpose of monitoring its movement.
Green Turtle 1, also known as Name This Turtle, returned to Grand Cayman to nest on Seven Mile Beach this year.
Since the transmitter was attached on 24 July, Name This Turtle has nested for the fifth time this year, said Janice Blumenthal of the Department of Environment.
‘Green turtles can nest up to six times per season, and we expect Name This Turtle to nest once more this year,’ she said.
When she was released by the Cayman Turtle Farm in 1988 as a yearling, Name This Turtle was about a foot long and weighed between six and seven pounds.
Upon her return, the turtle is now more than three and a half feet long and weighs more than 300 pounds, Ms Blumenthal said.
Name This Turtle can be recognised as a turtle released from the Cayman Turtle Farm by the living tag on her shell.
‘This tag was created when she was a hatchling, by surgically implanting a piece of her plastron (the white underside of a turtle) into the carapace (the top shell,’ said Ms Blumenthal.
‘The tag grows with the turtle and its location on the shell indicates the year that the turtle was tagged.’
Name This Turtle was tagged the year before she was released.
The transmitter attached to the turtle is not permanent.
‘We attached the satellite transmitter with a special low-heat, quick setting epoxy, which is proven to be harmless to turtles,’ said Ms. Blumenthal. ‘It will come off naturally in less than a year.’
In the meantime, the transmitter will send a signal to a satellite every time the turtle comes to the surface to breathe, allowing its movements to be followed.
‘No one knows how turtles released from the Turtle Farm behave in the wild,’ said Ms Blumenthal. ‘The migration of Name This Turtle will provide extremely valuable scientific information.’
Those interested in following the movements of Name This Turtle can do so on the website: www.seaturtle.org/tracking/cayman.
Ms. Blumenthal thinks Name This Turtle will begin her migration fairly soon.
‘She’s probably going to nest one more time and then she should start moving right after that,’ she said.
It is hoped two more wild green turtles will have transmitters attached this year, Ms Blumenthal said.
Name This Turtle is called what she is because she has not been officially named.
‘We like to announce a naming competition,’ said Ms Blumenthal.
Entries for a name for the female turtle should be submitted before 1 September by e-mail to: [email protected]; or by mail to: Department of Environment, Box 486 GT.
Students should submit the name of their school and year/grade with their entry.