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.)

Trouble viewing this map? Try this link!

Brenda


All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-155.

Release date: June 11, 2021

Release location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Brenda the green sea turtle was tagged with a satellite transmitter on June 11, 2021, on Casey Key. This is the first year that Mote scientists have observed Brenda, and we're excited to learn more about her! After Brenda was tagged, she was observed nesting again on June 21 on Manasota Key with her satellite tag intact. She is being tracked thanks to a donation from Ocean & Company.

Freda


All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-155.

Release date: June 5, 2021

Release location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Freda is an adult, female, green sea turtle who was observed nesting and received a satellite tag on Casey Key in the early morning hours of June 5, 2021.  Freda was first observed nesting in 2015 on Manasota Key, where she was encountered twice that season. In 2019, Freda returned to nest on Casey Key and received a satellite tag. The satellite tag let us watch her movements as Freda continued to lay nests near Casey Key and when she was finished nesting, began traveling south. Her tag stopped transmitting off the Florida Everglades on Aug. 8, 2019, before she had reached her foraging grounds, so her whereabouts the past few years are a mystery. We are tracking Freda again thanks to a donation from the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, and we hope to learn more about how many nests she lays in a season as well as where she goes (where her foraging grounds are located) when she has completed her nesting 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), and over the years, 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). She is now 94 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 donations to the Mote Sea Turtle Tracking project.

Grasshopper


All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-155.

Release date: July 15, 2021

Release location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Grasshopper is a green turtle that was first seen nesting on Casey Key in 2017, nested again in 2019, and also this year (2021)! Mote scientists applied a satellite tag to her after she nested on July 15, 2021.  A little girl who just happened to see us tagging a green turtle suggested the name to us in 2019 and when we found this very boisterous sea turtle, we thought it was a perfect fit! Grasshopper is being tracked thanks to a donation from Ocean & Company.

Mildred


All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-155.

Release date: July 14, 2021

Release location: Casey Key, Florida

Background:

Mildred, the green sea turtle, was first seen on July 2, 2021, but she did not lay a nest that time so we could not apply a satellite tag.  She most likely laid a nest over the next few days but our tagging team did not see her.  When we saw Mildred again on July 14, 2021, she was nesting so we applied a satellite tag.  Since this is the first year that Mote scientists have observed Mildred and we're excited to learn more about her! Mildred is name for Christine Mildred, the mother of one of our Mote scientists,  and as a mother with initials CM, we just had to give her name to a green sea turtle which share the initials CM because their scientific name is Chelonia mydas, but we are calling her Mildred for short.  We are able to track Mildred thanks to a donation from Ocean & Company.

Looking for a previously tracked green sea turtle? Click 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.)

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Bobby

Release date: 09/15/2021

Release location: Bonita Beach, FL

Background:

Bobby is an adult male loggerhead who was found struggling in the surf in Manatee Public Beach in Manatee County, Florida on July 31, 2021 with suspected brevetoxicosis and rescued by Mote's Strandings Investigations Program. Bobby's name was inspired by the bobbing movement he was making at the surface. After 45 days of rehabilitation at Mote's Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital, he was released with a satellite tag on September 15, 2021 from Ft Myers, Florida. Bobby is being tracked thanks to a donation from Ocean & Company.

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: 07/13/2020

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.