Satellite Turtle Tagging

Satellite Turtle Tagging

On Saturday, February 24th, at the National Environmental Centre, the RATs team were invited to attend a turtle tagging event led by Katherine Hart (DECR environmental officer and turtle expert), Amy Avenant (DECR), Jackie Walker (leader in the Amanyara turtle initiative) and Peter Richardson (Marine Conservation Society, UK).

During the session we learnt about what they do to tag the turtles – both for the tagging on fins and the satellite tagging – and they explained how the satellite tags work. We also got to learn a little more about turtles, such as the fact that turtles always lay their eggs where they were born! We also learnt that the tags show where the turtles migrate from and to; many of the turtles we see here in TCI are from Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba or the Bahamas. We also got a close look at the turtle shells they have at the centre; they explained that the shell is a bone and that turtles shed the layers on the outside of their shell as they get older. We could feel how thin the layers of the shell are – they said it is like putting on a strong nail vanish, it peels a layer of nail off but there is still another layer under the first one.

The highlight had to be meeting, and touching, the turtle they had caught and on which they were going to fix the satellite tag. He was being closely monitored – they have to ensure that his eyes in particular don’t get too dry. They said he was a very chilled turtle compared to some they have brought in (we thought this might be because he came from Middle Caicos!). His size indicated that he was probably a teenager. He would only be out of the water overnight; he would then be taken back to Middle Caicos and released where he had been found. His flippers were scaly but much softer than you might think; they feel almost like fingers with the ridges they have on the underside.

Once this turtle has his satellite tag and he is back in the water, we will be able to follow him on the Seaturtle webpage:

He doesn’t have a name yet, but we have our fingers crossed that one of the names we put in the hat will be chosen!

  Isabelle Connelly (Yr7) & Ms Rankin