Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program has tagged sea turtles with satellite transmitters since 2005 to track their behavior and migrations. Follow Mote-tagged turtles and read about current projects below.

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 presents an opportunity to tag nesting females with satellite transmitters to better understand green sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. By satellite tagging them, Mote scientists are growing the small data set on where they nest and where they travel to forage (feed) after nesting season ends.

Green turtles tend to nest in a “saw-toothed” pattern, with many nests laid one year and few nests laid the following year.  In 2018, Mote scientists observed a low year, with only nine nests, likely laid by two or three  females. In contrast, 2019 is proving to be a very high nesting year for green turtles. Prior to 2018, Mote satellite-tagged two green females, Sweet Pea in 2007 and Kessie in 2009.  You can find their tracks here.

In 2018, Mote satellite-tagged “Gigi,” whose track is shown on the map below. On the same map, we’re adding several new green turtles from 2019 onward. 

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Gigi

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 07/19/2018

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Gigi is an adult female green sea turtle that was observed nesting on Casey Key on the night of July 18, 2018 and satellite tagged in the early hours of the morning of July 19, 2018. She has also been seen nesting on Casey Key in 2010 and 2016. Gigi is one of the few green sea turtles to nest on Casey Key in 2018, and she will teach us more about where green turtles nest, where they go when they have completed nesting and what routes they use to get there. UPDATE: Gigi’s track combined with Mote’s Turtle Patrol data indicates that she has nested six times in 2018, and on Oct. 9, 2018 she left the nesting beach to travel to her foraging grounds. She traveled to the western coast of Cuba and on to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico 70 miles north of Campeche. Gigi's tag stopped transmitting on Jan. 17, 2019.  She appears to be settled in her foraging ground, where she will likely remain until she makes the next migration to nest again in a year or two. Gigi is a great example of how turtles see no boundaries – she’s a tri-national turtle.

Thalia

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 05/29/2018

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Thalia is an adult female green sea turtle that was observed nesting on Casey Key in the early morning hours on May 29, 2019. She was first observed on Manasota Key in 2015. Thalia is one of many turtles observed nesting on Casey Key in 2019, and she will teach us more about where green turtles nest, where they go when they have completed nesting and what routes they use to get there. Thalia was named for a Greek muse who is described as joyous and flourishing — Mote scientists hope this turtle flourishes and lays many nests. Her name also evokes Thalassia, the scientific name for the turtle grass, a seagrass eaten by green turtles.

June

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 06/16/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

June is an adult female green sea turtle that was observed nesting and received a satellite tag on Casey Key in the early morning hours of June 16, 2019. This was the first time June has been observed nesting, and she received flipper tags and a microchip so that scientists can identify her after her satellite tag comes off.  

June is named for Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer June McIntosh, who volunteered on Casey Key from 2012-2018. She passed away last fall and had requested that donations be sent to Mote’s tagging program in lieu of gifts. We are honored to name a turtle after June, as a tribute to her bright, happy spirit. It was easy to see how much Turtle Patrol meant to June; her dedication and enthusiasm brought joy to other volunteers and the public.

Freda

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 06/17/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Freda is an adult female green sea turtle that was observed nesting and received a satellite tag on Casey Key in the early morning hours of June 17, 2019.  Freda was first observed nesting in 2015 on Manasota Key, where she was encountered twice that season.

Freda was named in honor of Freda Perotta. For 25 years, Freda Perrotta has been the backbone of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch (LBKTW). This energetic, classy lady never tired of her turtle duties.  She patrolled on the beach, transported walkers, organized LBKTW t-shirt sales and evening nest excavations, ran their Name The Stake program, educated hundreds of children and adults, and recruited many of them as volunteers, all with her enthusiasm for sea turtles. One of her last active roles was that of running LBKTW’s Turtle Motel (permitted program volunteers could take baby turtles to her motel outside her condo on the beach and she would babysit them during the day until they could be released). Although she is now 93 and living in Skilled Nursing at Freedom Village in West Bradenton, her new title is LBKTW’s Turtle Consultant. This “Energizer Bunny” turtle volunteer was named a Lifetime Member of LBKTW, and though she now must sit in a wheelchair, she always has a turtle shirt on. Mote thanks LBKTW for their donation to the Mote Sea Turtle Tracking project. 

Amelia

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 06/21/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Amelia is an adult female green sea turtle that was observed nesting and received a satellite tag on Casey Key in the early morning hours of June 21, 2019. This was the first time Amelia has been observed nesting, and she received flipper tags and a microchip so that scientists can identify her after her satellite tag come off.  

Amelia was named for pilot Amelia Earhart, in honor of Mote Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer Will Collins, a former pilot. Will and his wife Sally were longtime friends, volunteers (1985-2006), and supporters of Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program. Their kindness and generosity will be forever remembered and appreciated, whether they were waving as Sea Turtle Patrollers passed by or providing a nighttime shelter to Mote’s tagging team in stormy weather. 

Name Me

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 07/06/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Name Me is an adult female green sea turtle that was first observed nesting on Casey Key on June 26, 2019 where she received two new flipper tags and a microchip for identification.  By reading her tags, we were able to identify her when she returned to Casey Key to lay another nest on July 6, 2019, after which she received a satellite tag. We were surprised to see that she almost immediately traveled south and around to the Atlantic Ocean and is currently traveling north along the east coast of Florida.  We are watching to see if she lays another nest or where her travels lead her. 

Irene

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 06/27/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Irene is an adult female green sea turtle that was first observed nesting on Casey Key on June 17, 2019 where she received two new flipper tags and a microchip for identification.  By reading her tags, we were able to identify her when she returned to Casey Key to lay another nest on June 27, 2019, after which she received a satellite tag which will allow us to watch to see how many more nests she lays. 

Mote thanks Charles and Melissa Swanson for their support of this tag in memory of Tom and Irene Coulter. 

Cheeseball   

Species: Green

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Female

Release Date: 07/01/2019

Release Location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Cheeseball is an adult female green sea turtle that was first observed nesting on Casey Key in the early morning hours on July 1, 2019 and she received a satellite tag. She also received two flipper tags and a microchip so that scientists can identify her when her satellite tag comes off.  We are curious to find out how many more nests she will lay and where she travels when she finishes nesting this season. 

MALE LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES

Male sea turtles do not return to land after they leave the beach as hatchlings, unless they are injured or sick. Therefore, they are a more elusive group to study. By satellite tagging adult male loggerheads that stranded and received hospital care, scientists can learn more about post-release behavior of rehabilitated turtles as well as behavior, habitat, home range and migratory pathways of adult male loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Mr. T

Mr. T released in the Florida Keys

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 05/07/2019

Release Location: Marathon, Florida

Background:

Mr. T is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle that was found floating near Tavernier Key in the Florida Keys on February 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 repair a tear in his lung.  Mr. T was released with a satellite tag at Sombrero Beach, Marathon on May 7th, 2019.  The tagging was a collaborative effort between Mote STCRP, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and The Turtle Hospital. UPDATE June 2019: After spending some time off Key Largo in the Florida Keys, Mr. T has migrated into the Gulf of Mexico and is currently off Sanibel Island, FL. We look forward to seeing where he goes from here. 

Walter

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 06/28/2018

Release Location: Sanibel Island, Florida

Background:

Walter is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle that stranded on June 4, 2018. He was rescued and taken to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel, Florida, where he was treated for brevetoxicosis. His tag was donated by an anonymous donor and he was named in honor of CROW’s 50th Anniversary and their Founder, Shirley J. Walter. Walter was released with a satellite tag from Sanibel Island on June 28, 2018. The tagging was a collaborative effort between Mote STCRP and the Sea Turtle Conservancy. His tag last transmitted on Sept. 8, 2018, 72 days after his release. The lack of transmission since then might be due to tag loss or damage.

Intrepid

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 07/27/2018

Release Location: Lido Key, Florida

Background:

Intrepid is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle that was found floating west of Longboat Pass in the Gulf of Mexico on June 7, 2018 and rescued by Mote Stranding Investigations Program and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office with suspected brevetoxicosis. He was rehabilitated at Mote's Sea Turtle Hospital and released with a satellite tag from Lido Key, Florida, on July 27, 2018. Intrepid last transmitted on Sept. 13, 2018, 48 days after his release. The lack of transmissions since then may be due to tag loss or damage.

Erick

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 08/22/2018

Release Location: Fort DeSoto, St. Petersburg, Florida

Background:

Erick is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle that was found and rescued by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife from Captiva, Florida on July 26, 2018 with suspected brevetoxicosis. He was rehabilitated at CROW until August 3, 2018 when we was transferred to Mote Sea Turtle Hospital for continued care. He was named after Erick Lindblad, the Chief Executive Officer at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. He was released with a satellite tag on Aug. 22, 2018, from Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg, Florida. UPDATE June 2019: Erick traveled back down to Charlotte County where he was originally found and spent most of the fall and winter off Fort Myers BEach, Florida.  On June 4, 2019, Erick started a journey towards Boca Grande and Manasota Key, FL. 

Independence

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 08/02/2018

Release Location: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Background:

Independence is an adult male loggerhead that was found in the surf off Longboat Key, Florida on July 1, 2018 with suspected brevetoxicosis. He was rehabilitated at Mote Sea Turtle Hospital and released with a satellite tag on August 2, 2018 from Anna Maria Island, Florida. Mote would like to thank the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation for their quick assistance in providing a satellite tag for Independence. UPDATE: Independence made a trip down to Naples but then headed back north and is now spending time off of the mouth of Tampa Bay. UPDATE June 2019: Independence made a few forays between the mouth of Tampa Bay,FL, Naples, FL and an offshore site.  He spent the majority of the 2018 winter and 2019 spring in a foraging ground 45 miles northeast of the Dry Tortugas, 90 miles west of the Everglades.  In May, he began a journey northeast towards Sanibel Island, FL. Unfortunately, his tag sent it's last transmission on May 21, 2019, 291 days after his release. His travels coincide with loggerhead mating and nesting season. The lack of transmissions since May could be due to tag loss or damage.  

Barron

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 09/26/2018

Release Location: Naples, Florida

Background:

Barron is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle that was rescued by the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel, Florida, on July 27, 2018 and treated for brevetoxicosis. He was named after Heather Barron, DVM, the Medical and Research Director of CROW. He was transferred to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for continued care on Aug. 3, 2018. Barron was satellite tagged and released on Aug. 26, 2018, from Naples, Florida. UPDATE: Barron has spent most of his time in the waters near Naples and Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

Species: Loggerhead

Life Stage: Adult

Gender: Male

Release Date: 09/26/2018

Release Location: Naples, Florida

Background:

Banner is an adult male loggerhead sea turtle who was rescued by Collier County Parks and Recreation in Naples, FL on August 13, 2018. He was admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel, Florida and treated for brevetoxicosis. He was transferred to Mote on Aug. 24, 2018 for continued care and was released with a satellite tag on Sept. 26, 2018, from Naples, Florida. UPDATE: Banner has spent most of his time in the waters south of Marco Island, Florida and in late April 2019, moved north towards waters off Naples, Florida. 

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.