A project of FWC in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
|Name||Species||Life Stage||Release Date||Last Location||Days Transmitted|
|Robot||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-06-03||2011-07-10||37|
|Mat||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-07-06||2011-08-07||32|
|Snapper||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-08-13||2011-10-23||71|
|Nipper||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-07-06||2011-08-09||34|
|Scar-lett||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-07-07||2011-07-27||20|
|Eddy||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-08-13||2011-09-27||45|
|Chibi-chan||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-06-05||2011-07-14||39|
|Sharky||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-06-04||2011-06-26||22|
|Diez||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-09-16||2011-10-29||43|
|Litiopa||Kemp's Ridley||oceanic juvenile||2011-07-12||2011-08-05||24|
Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.
Like most other sea turtles, Kemp’s ridley has an oceanic/pelagic juvenile stage. Because these young turtles live their lives on the open sea, they are almost never seen in the wild, and almost nothing is known of their behavior, habitat use, or movements.
This study of juvenile ridleys follows eight years of investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into the lives of young, oceanic turtles in the Gulf of Mexico—what they eat, how they forage, and where they live relative to oceanographic features and the pelagic Sargassum drift community. This application of satellite transmitters marks the first time that wild, pelagic, juvenile sea turtles have been tracked over long distances and time periods.
Tracking these small turtles is a challenge. The transmitter must be small so as to not hinder the turtle’s movement, and the attachment method must allow the turtles to grow. For this challenge, we chose a style of transmitter and attachment method recommended by Kate Mansfield and Jeanette Wyneken. The transmitter is one designed for flying birds—a 9.5 gram solar-powered tag. The attachment of this tag was by flexible aquarium silicone adhesive. This attachment will allow the turtle’s shell to grow substantially before eventually causing the tag to fall off.
The need for information on these young turtles in the open sea reached an urgency following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf in 2010. Of the hundreds of oiled sea turtles rescued from the spill area during the disaster, the majority were pelagic juvenile ridleys like the turtles in this study. It is hypothesized that their close association with zones of convergence made these turtles particularly susceptible to surface oil. A key objective of this study is to describe how pelagic ridleys use these and other oceanographic features, including the Sargassum drift community, which occurs in patches and lines assembled by surface water movement.
Funding for this work is provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s cooperative agreement with the State of Florida.