Turtle swims towards home in new found freedom
(CNS): Sir Thomas Turtleton, a former long term resident of the Cayman Turtle Farm, has made the most of his new found freedom. The turtle, which was released last weekend to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, has dodged the poachers and made it all the way to the Nicaraguan border. The 60-year-old turtle, which weighs some 600lbs, was originally caught near Surinam, South America, in the 1970’s as an adult male and was part of the initial captive breeding stock at Mariculture Ltd, which became the Cayman Turtle farm. According to the satellite tracker fitted onto Sir Thomas, in just over a week of freedom the turtle has travelled 372 kilometres towards his original home.
The turtle was released into the North Sound on the afternoon of Saturday 2 June after more than three decades in captivity. He is fitted with a satellite tag which is programmed to transmit when Sir Thomas surfaces and collect dive data and GPS positioning when he is underwater. Data reports so far show the turtle has been travelling at an average speed of 2.3 km/hr (1.4 mph). Over a set of 4-hour sampling periods, his maximum dive duration has ranged from 21 to 24 minutes, and after years of being in a shallow tank Sir Thomas is making the most of the ocean, having spent up to 97% of his time under water.
By Monday morning Sir Thomas Turtleton had arrived at the continental shelf off the coast of Honduras, near the border of Nicaragua. He was in the water between 100 metres and 200 metres deep and was still heading southwest. His average speed slowed down when he reached the shallower water.
You can follow Sir Thomas at http://www.seaturtle.org
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