Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program has tagged sea turtles with satellite transmitters since 2005 to track their behavior and migrations.

Want to name and track your own turtle?

Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program is actively seeking supporters to help fund this tagging work. For a $5,000 donation, you too can sponsor a turtle that you can name and track! Consider giving this as a gift for a loved one. Other options to contribute to this work are also available. Please call Mote's Development Office at 941-388-4441, ext. 309, to learn more.

Thank you for your support!


NESTING FEMALE GREEN SEA TURTLES

Green sea turtles have been nesting (laying their eggs) along southwest Florida beaches in increasing numbers in recent years. This pattern presents an opportunity to tag nesting females with satellite transmitters to better understand the lives of green sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. By satellite tagging them, Mote scientists are learning more about where and how often they nest, where they travel to forage (feed) after nesting season ends, and what routes they use to get there.

Green turtles tend to nest in a “saw-toothed” pattern (see graph on the right), with many nests laid one year and few nests laid the following year. Learning more about which individuals comprise these different nesting years may help us understand why they display this pattern.

Turtles that are currently transmitting can be found below. (Previously tracked green sea turtles are here.)


MALE LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES

After they leave the beach as hatchlings, male sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea—unlike females that return to shore to nest. Therefore, males are a more elusive group to study. When adult males are injured or sick and receive hospital care, scientists can use the opportunity to learn more about them by satellite tagging the turtles before releasing them back into the marine environment. Satellite tags can help reveal the post-release behavior of rehabilitated turtles as well as the movements, habitat, home range and migratory pathways of adult male loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico. (Previously tracked male loggerheads are here.)

Trouble viewing this map? Try this link!

Connor

Connor the turtle

Release date: 01/13/2021

Release location: Longboat Key, Florida

Background:

Connor is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle who was rescued by Mote's Stranding Investigations Program in a residential canal off Longboat Key, Florida, on Sept. 6, 2020. He presented with lethargy and multiple areas of skin erosion, the worst on his right front flipper where monofilament line might have caused the injury (but line was not found on the turtle). He was named after Officer Joshua Connors of the Longboat Key Police Department, who assisted in his rescue. He was treated and rehabilitated at Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for 130 days before being released on Longboat Key, Florida, on Jan. 13, 2021. Connor immediately traveled south toward Fort Myers, Florida.

JT

JT the turtle is entangled in a crab trap and rescued by Mote staff.

Release date: 09/26/2018

Release location: Naples, Florida

Background:

JT is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle who was rescued by the Mote's Stranding Investigations Program on April 2, 2020. JT was found floating offshore of Longboat Key entangled badly in a crab trap. The rope on the crab trap had embedded into both front flippers and around his neck, which had left him unable to dive for a long time; he was very skinny. He was named after Officer Justin Franks of Sarasota Police Department. Officer Franks and Officer Skinner assisted in JT’s rescue. JT was rehabilitated at Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for 102 days. He was satellite tagged and released on July 13, 2020, from Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida. JT traveled north to waters off Longboat Key for the summer and in the winter traveled into the Atlantic off the northern Florida Keys.

Mr. T

Mr. T released in the Florida Keys

Release date: 05/07/2019

Release location: Marathon, Florida

Background:

Mr. T is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle who was found floating near Tavernier Key in the Florida Keys on Feb. 9, 2019. Mr. T was rescued with help from the USGC and rehabilitated at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, which included surgeries to remove a fish hook and line that was lodged in his mouth and to repair a tear in his lung. Mr. T was released with a satellite tag at Sombrero Beach in Marathon on May 7, 2019. The tagging was a collaborative effort between Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and The Turtle Hospital. Mr. T appears to winter in the Atlantic off the coast of Key Largo and summer off Fort Myers.

Looking for a previously tracked loggerhead? Click here for our past turtles.


Frequently asked questions

How do satellite transmitters work?

Researchers attach a battery-powered satellite transmitter to the sea turtle’s upper shell, or carapace. Each time the turtle surfaces, the transmitter sends out data on its geographic location, which can be received by satellites orbiting overhead. In turn, the satellites send the data to scientists’ computers.

Why is my turtle showing up on land?

The data points on the turtle’s location vary in accuracy — the ones that appear to be on land are less accurate, and scientists take this into account when describing the migrations of sea turtles. Accuracy depends on the number of messages the satellite receives from the transmitter, the positions of the transmitter and satellites in relation to each other, and the environmental conditions.

Why is my turtle not transmitting?

Transmissions can only be picked up during short windows of time when certain satellites are overhead and the sea turtle comes up for a breath at the surface. Mote’s tags are programmed to transmit each time the turtle surfaces, though transmissions aren’t always successfully received by satellites. In other cases, tags may be programmed to transmit less often to save battery life. Also, transmissions vary in accuracy (see point 2 above), and Mote’s map does not show the least accurate transmissions. These factors can result in a few days with no received transmissions. Eventually, however, all transmitters stop sending information, and that can happen for several reasons:

  • Attachment or antenna failure: Sea turtles are known to hide under rocks, and loggerhead sea turtles have even been observed “scratching their backs” on rocks and reefs. These behaviors could dislodge the transmitter or break or damage its antenna.
  • Biofouling: Most transmitters have a “saltwater switch” which tells the transmitter it’s at the surface of the water (when its sensors are dry), where it can send data. However, the saltwater switch could be compromised by algae, or even coral, mussels or barnacles growing over the sensor, making it seem wet all the time. Mote scientists put anti-fouling paint on satellite tags to prevent this for as long as possible.
  • Mortality: All species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered, which is why we are interested in tracking their behaviors. Scientists can sometimes guess at a turtle’s cause of death based on transmitter data: For example, if a turtle has been caught as by-catch by a commercial fishery, frequent transmissions in a line towards shore could indicate the turtle is deceased aboard a fishing vessel headed towards shore.
  • Dead battery: Most batteries on transmitters can last up to a year. To save energy, transmitters only actively try to transmit when the sea turtle is at the water’s surface.

Click to see our archived results from previously tracked sea turtles.