A green turtle named Suzie, whose travels through the Caribbean are being monitored after she tag this past June, seems to have a preference for British territories in the region. In a voyage that has included more than five hundred miles since early summer, she has only traveled from the Tirks and Caicos Islands to the British Virgin Islands, and most recently to the island of Anguilla. Is it the food? The language? The beer?
London’s Telegraph newspaper reports that the adult turtle, purchased from a fisherman at Turks and Caicos, was fitted with a tag by a Marine Conservation Society (MCS) project to conserve turtles in the area. Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity Programme Manager, said scientists were surprised to see how far the turtles migrate – and even more surprised when she stuck to UK territories. “Suzie’s journey is a remarkable first. She was the first turtle ever to be fitted with a satellite tag in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and her journey has told us for the first time that three of the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, hundreds of kilometres apart, share green turtle populations,” he said. “We would never have predicted that she would visit three UK territories in a row without stopping at any of the other countries on the way. Suzie has revealed that each of these territories has a responsibility to look after their shared turtle resource.”
Each of the UK Overseas Territories takes a different approach to the management of their turtle fisheries. For example, while the Turks and Caicos Islands protect eggs on the beaches it allows the capture at sea of any turtle with a shell over 20 inches at any time of the year. The Government of Anguilla, however, imposed a 15-year, temporary ban on all turtle fishing in 2005 in order to allow their turtle populations to recover.
The MCS said the new study shows how important it is for all the islands to protect turtles.