Recovered turtles back at sea and keeping in touch

Filed under: Pine Knoll Shores by pineknollshores on Monday, February 6th, 2012
Conservation & Research Coordinator Wendy Cluse adjusts a turtle's satellite tag.

Conservation & Research Coordinator Wendy Cluse adjusts a turtle

After spending a few weeks at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, two young sea turtles are keeping in touch as they travel the Gulf Stream. A web-based tracking system using satellite technology and small transmitters affixed to the turtles’ shells periodically updates their locations. The two green sea turtles were among four sea turtles brought to the Aquarium to recover from cold-stunning in early January, victims of a sudden drop in water temperatures during the first winter cold snap.

Click here to track the turtles on seaturtle.org. The project is listed as the North Carolina Aquariums Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle Monitoring. The Aquarium has tagged and released several other sea turtles in the past, all loggerheads that had been rescued from area beaches as hatchlings. The green turtles are the first cold-stunned turtles the Aquarium has tagged. Duke scientists on a research trip gave them a ride to the Gulf Stream, with the help of a local charter boat.

Aquarium staff and researchers hope to learn more about the habits of green sea turtles, and how they behave when released after treatment for cold-stunning. Sea turtles are reptiles, so their body temperatures correlate with the surrounding water. Most sea turtles head to warmer waters in the fall. Those that linger can be immobilized by sudden cold weather. The Aquarium is one of several agencies that provide care for cold-stunned sea turtles rescued from area beaches and waters -  click for a video about what the Aquarium does. A loggerhead that had been treated for cold-stunning also was released with the green turtles. The Aquarium is still caring for the fourth turtle. The battery-operated tags can transmit for several months under ideal conditions. They eventually fall off as the shells grow. The Triad Foundation funded the tags.