Sir Thomas Turtleton becomes global celebrity

| 14/06/2012

Sir Thomas - Helping hands (237x300).jpg(CNS): The 600lb adult turtle that was released after more than 30 years in captivity at the Cayman Turtle Farm has become an international celebrity. Sir Thomas Turtleton, who was satellite-tagged and released to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, was featured in news stories all over the world in the days following his release. The world is now watching as Sir Tom continues on an incredible migration. Once in the ocean, the turtle, which is estimated to be around sixty years old, headed south and is currently close to the border of Nicaragua. Despite being confined to the farm for three decades, Sir Thomas has travelled over 500kms since his release.

"Sir Thomas spent several decades in the wild honing his survival and foraging skills before becoming a breeder at the Cayman Turtle Farm,” Cayman Turtle Farm Chief Research Officer, Dr Walter Mustin said, adding that he expected those skills had remained intact.  “Two decades of CTF tagging studies have demonstrated that even farm raised yearlings, raised on artificial feed and then released to the wild, successfully transition to wild diets, grow, migrate, mature, return to Cayman to mate and nest, and survive.  Sir Thomas’ present track suggests that his migratory and survival skills are fully functional.”

Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam explained that turtles spend a lot of time in either their feeding range sometimes called their foraging range or their breeding range where females lay their eggs. 

“Those two areas may be spread many hundreds of miles apart,” Adam said.  “As we are now in the midst of breeding season for Green Sea turtles, it is possible that Sir Thomas Turtleton has chosen this area of the Caribbean around Central America as his breeding range.  Another interesting observation on his track is that for just about all of his migration path he was swimming perpendicular to the main sea currents, so that may have been a factor in his choice of initial destination.”

As of Wednesday morning the 600-plus pound male Green Sea Turtle was just off the coast of Honduras above the Nicaraguan border. Sir Thomas Turtleton began his southbound migration from Grand Cayman at around 11:00am EST on 3rd June.

His movements are being monitored as part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry” – the Cayman Turtle Farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.

Sir Thomas Turtleton was originally caught nearSuriname, South America, in the 1970s which may be where he is heading. The team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will use the data sent by the turtle tracker as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Farm and in other research organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.

Updates on Sir Thomas Turtleton’s progress will also be regularly posted on the Cayman Turtle Farm Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/caymanturtle or his migration or can be followed on the Sea Turtle website

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (11)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Knot S Smart says:

    Oh Dear!

    I just checked the turtle location and he has run aground in Nicaragua…

    He will be in the mountains in a few days…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I've never met the guy. Keep on rolling, rolling, rolling on the river, or ocean.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cruel. That is like letting your pet ago.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Some Nicaraguan fisherman will have a good catch!!  Sould have just kept it for breeding, or sold the meat as its in for almost certain doom!  Not being negative but being that its been in captivity so long, it most be pretty tame and unaware of dangers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    He heard that Dart wanted the dump moved to the Turtle Farm and he knew that Mac would do it without any questions asked.He's swimming as far away from Cayman as possible.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Awesome, I am so happy for Sir Turtleton. Thought he might not make it in the wild, but even 30 years in a tank cannot stop this guy. Way to go!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Real glad to know that his doing fine, but if he is heading to Suriname then he had better make a sharp left turn pretty soon.

  8. Civil Dialogue Continued! says:

    He's getting as far away from Cayman as quickly as possible! Should be a warning sign for the rest of us!

  9. Anonymous says:

    This Program should be introduced to the schools. Especially SJACP! Let the young children help in the Sir Turtle's tracking. This will peek their interest in the environment and the sciences behind the program. Awsome! Awsome!

    • Anonymous says:

      …and after the 2 minute turtle tracking demo, they should go back to spelling class.