Turtle farm to release up to 40 hatchlings

| 09/11/2011

1461168774_cb0243846b_b (256x300).jpg(CNS): Despite the continued breeding problems at the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm officials said that the annual release will still go ahead this year during Pirates Week. The farm said that the release will include 9 yearlings and up to 40 advanced hatchlings, depending on sponsorship. According to a release from the farm the yearlings will be fitted with Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT tags) which are micro transponders encased in a glass case about the size of a large grain of rice.  These electronic tags are injected under the skin and can only be detected with a scanner allowing researchers around the world to identify individual animals and better understand migration and nesting patterns.

Last season, five females tagged and released from the Cayman Turtle Farm in the 1980s, returned to lay their own eggs on Cayman beaches.

The Farm’s release program, known to biologists as ‘headstarting’, has placed over thirty-one thousand green sea turtles into the wild since 1980.

Historically, the Cayman Islands boasted one of the largest green sea turtle populations in the Caribbean and possibly the world. When Christopher Columbus came across the islands in 1503 there were so many turtles he named them ‘Las Tortugas’. 

As early as the 17the century the turtles were in serious decline and were already commercially extinct but by 1900, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) deemed the local population to be extinct

According to the Department of Environment, today, there are less than thirty adult female green sea turtles nesting in the Cayman Islands each year. One objective of the headstarting programme is to help replenish the local population of reproducing green sea turtles. 

The 31st annual release which has usually take place off seven mile beach will this year take place on Sunday, 13 November at 4pm in the North Sound, off Safe Haven near the North Sound Golf Course.  The public is invited to join in and visitors to the Farm, leading up the event, can enter a raffle for a chance to release one of five Hatchlings into the sea.

To take part or find out more about sponsorship opportunities call 949 3894 or email sponsorship@turtle.ky

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Timmy, for heaven's sake. Abandon ship. This one is so damned leaky, we should just swim for it.

    Don't bump into any turtles on the way!

  2. Anonymous says:

    How much does the government give to UCCI?  Around $ 4.5 million.  Doesn't seem right does it?  Wonder why we can't fill all those jobs……we don't have enough education.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So I guess they accomplished this at about a million dollars per turtle?

    • Anonymous says:

      At $12m government "bailout" per year it's $300,000 per hatchling.  Of course that's not counting revenue the Turtle Farm generates from tourists and sales, so it's probably not far off $1m per hatchling in the end.  Or to put it another way, $500,000 per bite for the barracudas. 

  4. Reality Calling says:

    Take that scanner around West Bay next year and you’ll get 40 beeps from the stomachs of the local turtlevours. What a shambles.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you would be better off scanning for turtle next year in GT and further East. Turtle is PPM special gift basket. You would be better off with a metal detector in WB, they prefer the appliances, better value!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ha Ha Ha HA HA HA . The turtle farm is a joke. 40 turtles. I would love to see the P&L for that place every month!

  6. Hutchy Wampoa says:

    Let me make a slight modification. You are being conditioned to accept this as normal. As if we really care about where turtles come from and where they go? They survived without us pestering them before. We should just leave them alone and let them get on with it.

    "These electronic tags are injected under the skin and can only be detected with a scanner allowing authorities around the world to identify individual….." people?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, great news.  Considering roughly 1 out of a 100 make it to breeding age, the Turtle Farm has really out done itself this time.

    • Anonymous says:

      The turtle farm has been releasing turtles between one and two years old since 1979 in an effort to boost the population.

      To date, more than 31,000 have been released into the wild, with some returning to lay their eggs on Cayman’s beaches.

  8. Kraft Dinner says:

    What a waste of food!  Don't they know that people are starving here?

  9. CaymanQT says:

    Big deal –  40 hatchlings when the average nest size of a green turtle is 136? And 40 eggs when the odds of one living to egg-laying maturity is about 1 in 1000?    Why not keep the 40 hatchlings there for another 10 years and then release them when they have a better chance of surviving to make a difference?   What a waste of baby turtles.   Oh, wait a  minute – I get it!  This is about making money, not restoration of an endangered species. Duh!

  10. Anonymous says:


    In 1983 28,000 turtles were released. Now 400 breeding turtles capable of 6 to 7 nests per year, of 100 to 180 eggs per nest, and all they can release are 40 hatchlings. The Turtle Farm no longer works and should be closed, sold, or just given away.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If they've placed 31,000 since 1980, that's 1000 per year on average, which is probably almost enough to make a difference (note that, of all the turtles released in the 80s only 5 have returned to lay eggs).

    So why are they only releasing 40 this year? Sorry "up to 40 depending on sponsorship" whatever that means.  Maybe they'll have heineken logos on their shells.  Anyway, what happened to the other 960?

    I suspect that the Turtle Farm really just farms benefits and favours into people's pockets and does nothing to help the turtles.


    • Anonymous says:

      The answer to that question is in the first line of the article, though it doesn't go into the level of detail that has been reported in the past. The Turtle Farm has been having a lot of breeding problems since Hurricane Michelle in 2001 when they lost many turtles, including a lot of their breeders. The redevelopment into Boatswain's Beach also saw a continuing decline in breeding rates and recently a lot of the eggs stopped hatching. Some people have wondered whether the diet at the farm has an effect and the Turtle Farm is doing a lot of investigation in this area, but I also personally can't help but wonder whether putting a bar with lour music and bright lights right next to the lagoon where they breed and lay eggs might also have an impact… I have no scientific basis for that thought, but no matter what the reason is there are less turtles to lay eggs, less turtles laying eggs AND less turtles hatching. The farm isn't able to release as many turtles this year.