The Turks and Caicos’ most famous green turtle Suzie is heading home after making an epic voyage around the Caribbean [see our earlier post at Green Turtle cruising Caribbean prefers British territories]. The green turtle, who is fitted with a hi-tech satellite tag, has racked up a record-breaking 4,500km travelling around the Caribbean and is now heading back to the Islands. Amdeep Sanghera, a British animal conservation expert who manages the TCI Turtle Project, said: “Her journey is the longest recorded migration tracked in the Caribbean, and she hasn’t stopped yet! Suzie is still motoring along the Dominican coast. She’s really is amazing everyone, from local residents to experienced researchers alike.”
Suzie was caught in South Caicos at the end of June, fitted with a tag and quickly released back into TCI waters where she spent two months. On September 1 she began her migration and swam more than 820km straight to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) before making a 130km loop to Anguilla, her third consecutive UK territory. Peter Richardson, Marine Conservation Society biodiversity programme manager, said the turtle’s journey was unprecedented. “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.”
Six TCI-caught turtles have been tagged by the Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Project – a collaborative initiative between the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and the School for Field Studies (SFS) in TCI, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the University of Exeter in the UK. The project is carrying out research into the turtle populations and turtle fishery in the islands and the satellite tagging work aims to reveal the full range of the turtle populations found here.
Suzie’s tag only transmits when she surfaces to breath, during which time satellites orbiting in space receive the signals and calculate her location. Seaturtle.org’s ground-breaking programme called Stat communicates with the satellite system to plot online maps of the turtles’ movements each day. The daily maps and pictures of Suzie can be viewed online by anyone with internet access at www.mcsuk.org. According to the website Suzie’s map suggests that she has now crossed the border from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. “She may well have nested once in Barbuda and she may be trying to get back to TCI,” it reads. “Everyone here in South Caicos is hoping she’ll make it back for Christmas, but most likely it will be New Year’s Eve if she survives the Dominican fishers.”
The satellite tags used by the Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Project were funded by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Chelonia Group.
For the original news report go to http://www.tcweeklynews.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=85&twindow=Default&mad=No&sdetail=1798&wpage=&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=2404&hn=tcweeklynews&he=.com