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.

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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 this summer, and on Oct. 9 she began to leave the area to travel to her foraging grounds. She traveled to the western coast of Cuba and on to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and is now about 70 miles north of Campeche. Gigi is a great example of how turtles see no boundaries – she’s a tri-national turtle.

 

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

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.

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: Erick traveled back down to Charlotte County where he was found and has been spending time off Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

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.

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. Barron has spent most of his time in the waters near Naples, Florida.

Banner

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. Banner has spent most of his time in the waters near 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.