Sir Thomas Turtleton becomes global celebrity
(CNS): The 600lb adult turtle that was released after more than 30 years in captivity at the Cayman Turtle Farm has become an international celebrity. Sir Thomas Turtleton, who was satellite-tagged and released to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, was featured in news stories all over the world in the days following his release. The world is now watching as Sir Tom continues on an incredible migration. Once in the ocean, the turtle, which is estimated to be around sixty years old, headed south and is currently close to the border of Nicaragua. Despite being confined to the farm for three decades, Sir Thomas has travelled over 500kms since his release.
"Sir Thomas spent several decades in the wild honing his survival and foraging skills before becoming a breeder at the Cayman Turtle Farm,” Cayman Turtle Farm Chief Research Officer, Dr Walter Mustin said, adding that he expected those skills had remained intact. “Two decades of CTF tagging studies have demonstrated that even farm raised yearlings, raised on artificial feed and then released to the wild, successfully transition to wild diets, grow, migrate, mature, return to Cayman to mate and nest, and survive. Sir Thomas’ present track suggests that his migratory and survival skills are fully functional.”
Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam explained that turtles spend a lot of time in either their feeding range sometimes called their foraging range or their breeding range where females lay their eggs.
“Those two areas may be spread many hundreds of miles apart,” Adam said. “As we are now in the midst of breeding season for Green Sea turtles, it is possible that Sir Thomas Turtleton has chosen this area of the Caribbean around Central America as his breeding range. Another interesting observation on his track is that for just about all of his migration path he was swimming perpendicular to the main sea currents, so that may have been a factor in his choice of initial destination.”
As of Wednesday morning the 600-plus pound male Green Sea Turtle was just off the coast of Honduras above the Nicaraguan border. Sir Thomas Turtleton began his southbound migration from Grand Cayman at around 11:00am EST on 3rd June.
His movements are being monitored as part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry” – the Cayman Turtle Farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.
Sir Thomas Turtleton was originally caught near Suriname, South America, in the 1970s which may be where he is heading. The team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will use the data sent by the turtle tracker as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Farm and in other research organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.
Updates on Sir Thomas Turtleton’s progress will also be regularly posted on the Cayman Turtle Farm Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/caymanturtle or his migration or can be followed on the Sea Turtle website
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