60 year old turtle to be freed after 30 years at farm

| 30/05/2012

unnamed (241x300).jpg(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Farm has announced its intention to release one of its oldest breeders back into the ocean. The decision to release such a mature animal, the farm said, was to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of Elizabeth II on Saturday, 2 June. The adult turtle, which weighs over 600lbs and is estimated to be sixty years old, has been part of the farm’s breeding stock for over thirty years. The mature male turtle will be fitted with a tracking tag and released into the North Sound at the former Safehaven site, after which scientists will follow his progress and assess his re-introduction in to the wild after three decades in captivity.

Dubbed "Sir Thomas Turtleton" in honour of the jubilee, he is the first turtle of this age and size to be released into the wild by the Cayman Turtle Farm. Sir Thomas will be part of the farm’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry”, the farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.

In the tag and track programme, green sea turtles fitted with satellite transmitters are released into the ocean and monitored online.  When the animal surfaces during a transmission period, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.

As Sir Thomas Turtleton travels following his release, the team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will be able to use the data as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Farm and in like-minded organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.

It is hoped that the data from Sir Thomas Turtleton’s track may be compared with the track of younger released turtles and determine the behaviour of older turtles versus the younger turtles usually released by the Cayman Turtle Farm at between two and three years of age.

“We felt this turtle release would be a fitting celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee by the Cayman Turtle Farm as it celebrates both history and progress,” said Chief Marketing Officer Tina Trumbach. “Sir Thomas Turtleton has made a tremendous contribution to the breeding and conservation efforts at the Cayman Turtle Farm over the years, and we felt it was an opportune time to celebrate his history and release him back to his original habitat. By making his release a part of our Tag and Track release programme, we can also contribute to progress in research on mature turtles released into the wild.”

The public is invited to attend the unusual release and thereafter it Sir Thomas survives he can be followed online at seaturtle.org  or follow the Turtle Farm webpage link www.turtle.ky/current-project

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  1. Anonymous says:


    Nobody's out there "wringing off the lobster tails" – what a crock!  People use wild and creative scenarios like this to justify their "birthright" counter-poaching.  It's bad for everyone – please stop making things up!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Seriously people? The choices were simple: either he was released and became part of a research programme and gets a chance to enjoy his freedom again, or he be butchered and sold to become someone's turtle dinner. Which would you prefer?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Now let us name and shame those persons who apply and are issued turtle fishing licenses each year.

    The care not for our environment, they care not for our economy only their selfish greedy selves.

  4. Like It Is says:

    They eat turtles don't they?

  5. my my says:

    This is nothing but a publicity stunt. That poor turtle will be searching the surface for kibble when he's poached. The Turtle Farm is NOT a conservation organization and they have no scientific staff. They are a meat farm, a zoo and a tourist trap and should stop pretending otherwise or else hire some qualified zoologists and marine biologists to monitor these crazy ideas.

  6. Animaliberator says:

    Novel idea but likely will not work as the turtle has been fed man made foods over the past 30 years. What may work is to separate him from his usual holding pen in to a large protected area for a few months at least and see how he maintains himself, otherwise this would be indeed a certified death sentence.

    Other groups in the world are currently attempting to rehabilitate captive orca's and dolphins back to the wild and they are doing it in the exact same manner as described above.

    Sadly, if and/or when the turtle disappears of the radar, we will likely never be notified of such just like they did in reverse with the dolpins we have here now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tallyho – Let the hunt begin!

  8. Anonymous says:

    WOW 30 years? does it have an ankle bracelet on? or just made parole? crues locked up for 30 years. i bed he is retreated well into his shell now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I sure hope that’s not the ‘turtle’ that ran up the $50,000.00 bar tab trying to ‘promote’ the place!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I say tag our Exhalted Leader and turn him loose and send the turtle to the LA with the other retirees there – would probably result in more sensible decisions.

  11. Knot S Smart says:

    Arent they changing the retirement age to 65?

    The how come he gets to retire at 60?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Surely the Turtle Farm should ask for advice from the DOE before letting this turtle free? How will it be able to fend for itself after being fed daily for 30 years and confined to a small tank?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Retirement? LOL  All jokes aside, I don't think it should be done because he probably wouldn't know how to survive in the wild having been in captive for so long!

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is just stupid, he will have no survival skills to make It in the wild after being dependent so long. This calls for a protest march to keep him at the farm. Just like Cayman to kick him to the curb when they are done with him.

    Get a petition going to save him, will you..l

  15. Tim Adam says:

    All the evidence we have observed so far from turtles released into the wild after having been hand-fed in captivity for a number of years, shows that they do just fine in acclimatizing to find suitable food and habitat.  “Living-tagged” turtles released in the 1980’s as yearlings that had been bred, laid, hatched and raised in captivity at Cayman Turtle Farm, have obviously thrived after release into the wild because in the last couple of years several of them were observed having returned to nest on beaches in Grand Cayman.  Similar Cayman Turtle Farm captive-bred and captive-raised turtles released with special engraved titanium flipper tags some years ago ended up not only acclimatizing successfully to the wild but eventually migrating to places as far afield as Florida and Venezuela.  A second-generation captive-bred 2-year-old turtle named Jerry was released in February this year.  Jerry quickly found suitable habitat with abundant food supply, stayed around Grand Cayman for about six weeks, then eventually migrated to Cuba.


    Sir Thomas Turtleton spent his entire time as a hatchling, a juvenile and a young adult in the wild, before becoming a stud here at the farm, so if all these other captive-bred turtles have figured out how to fend for themselves, we expect no less of Sir Thomas!


    Turtles released with satellite tags are easily distinguishable even by an untrained eye.  Moreover, their movements and certain types of activities are tracked and reported to us via satellite.  In addition, Sir Thomas Turtleton has been implanted with a radio frequency identification device, and also has a device that emits a special unique radio signal to which we can home in if need be to check up on him if he remains around the island, in addition to the location fixes we receive via the ARGOS satellite.


    Around the Cayman Islands the penalties for turtle poaching can be very severe including not only imprisonment (up to a year) and shame but also heavy fines (up to half a million dollars) and forfeiture of any boat or other equipment used in the capture.  Turtle poachers in the Cayman Islands have been caught, convicted and fined, they have forfeited their boats, and at least one of them has been imprisoned.  Any turtle poacher is foolish, but they would also be extremely stupid, reckless, malicious and self-destructive if they try and pick on a satellite-tagged turtle!  And besides all that, given all the publicity about the release of Sir Thomas Turtleton, we hope that even if someone is tempted to poach turtles from the wild they would not be so evil-minded and idiotic as to harm such a well-known local celebrity so easily distinguishable by his satellite tag.


    In regard to turtle poaching in general, I should mention that a person in the Cayman Islands who purchases turtle meat (fresh or frozen) from anyone other than Cayman Turtle Farm runs the same huge risks of shame, imprisonment, fines, and forfeitures.  In the eyes of the law the purchaser is as guilty as the poacher.  So we hope such persons who may be tempted, will have the good sense to forego any offers of fresh or frozen turtle meat from anyone other than Cayman Turtle Farm.  Fresh turtle meat is readily available five days a week from Cayman Turtle Farm, and at only $12 per pound for stew and $9 per pound for menavelin it is a bargain compared with the risk of losing your boat, your equipment, your freedom, your reputation and a big chunk of cash if you’re found to be a poacher or in possession of turtle meat from a poacher.


    Meanwhile we look forward to the information Sir Thomas Turtleton will provide to us as we continue our programme of research into the movements and behaviours of sea turtles released into the wild after a lengthy period of captivity for whatever reason – rehabilitation, research, captive breeding, or otherwise.  This will help to inform future sea turtle releases not only here in Cayman but elsewhere in the world.


    … And by the way regarding retirement age … Sir Thomas may actually have already reached the age of 65!  The estimated age of 60 years is our best “educated guess.”  In any case he has served Cayman and the Green Sea turtle population well for many decades so even if he’s a “young 60” he has earned his retirement and we all wish him a long and happy one.


              Tim Adam, Managing Director,

              Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter


    • Anonymous says:

      Tim,your one statement sums up everything you think you know about releasing a dependant turtle into the wild….our best “educated guess.”……your words not mine.I hope you are right in regard to his survival skills otherwise you have just sentenced this magnificant animal to death.

    • Anonymous says:

      A very intelligent reply to a serious subject. Glad to have Tim on the job. Perhaps it is time for Tim to think about greater responsibility in Cayman.

    • !2 Friends from Different Schools says:

      Mr. Adams Sir, AS managing director of an Institution that  is being subsidized to the tune of $10,000,000.00  annually, one would think that you would see an opportunity to attract more by using this beautiful animal as an attraction and by so doing  increase your financial bottom line!

      Give this animal his own special habitat and let him be the "star attraction" at the farm. I can think of a million things that you could do to make the operation of the farm more profitable and save Mr. Turtleton's life.

      One idea that comes to mind immediately is "T-Shirts and many other types of memorabilia that would be designed around Mr. Turtleton "and" his family of other lovely sea creatures at the Farm. How about  "kids story books" based on the life and adventures at the Farm. These are the things I think that would improve  the operational bottom line and save us money. But best of all it would save Mr. Turtleton.

      Do the right thing and save MR. Turtleton  for the kids to visit. That will make a lot more people happy.

       Think how you'll feel if MR.TURTLETON is  "POACHED" or worst yet "MUTILATED" by some hungry shark or "TRAPPED IN A NET" and LEFT TO DIE away from his friends and family. 





  16. Anonymous says:

    Let Mac go instead of the turtle.

  17. Caymanian Boat Captain says:

    He won't last a week in the North Sound. I'm all for releasing this turtle back into the wild, but in the North Sound he will be a sitting duck for sure. The next media headlines will read, "Endangered Sea Turtle, disappears from GPS tracking"   

  18. Anonymous says:

    The poor turtle will get the same Caymankind reception as the pelican a few weeks ago. Watch this space.

  19. Anonymous says:

    There’s no doubt but that some people will eat this poor freshly-released prisoner just as soon as his life sentence is commuted to the death penalty by his well-publicized release into the waiting hands of a hungry savage mob of turtle-eaters. Reminds me of a zombie movie – he’ll go out the door peacefully only to be set upon by a mob of flesh-eaters who will tear him asunder and consume his flesh. Long live the Queen.

  20. Sir Turtle says:

    If I were watching a cartoon, releasing him would be a good thing.  However, this is real life (or death).

    What I’m reading is an advertisement for turtle poachers to come out and kill 600lbs of turtle stew.  I hope that transmitter captures images as well so that we can imprison the poacher(s) after.

    My other thought is how well will this turtle deal with freedom after spending 30 years in a pen swimming around in circles and posing for photos?  He may be too accustomed to human interaction to understand the threat humans pose to his safety…

  21. Anonymous says:

    It is embarrassing that we continue to harvest these beautiful endangered species to satiate our historical entitlements –  spending over 10 million dollars a year to run a facility with neither conservational merit nor recognized scientific endorsement.  The irony is that this losing facility could be fully financed by private donors and outside contributions if only we ran the program with some minimal replenishment mandate.  One day I hope we can be proud of this place – for now it remains an offensive burden.

    • Anonymous says:

      We Farm them to eat – we do not harvest from the wild!

      Very few people have permits to get them in the wild, and the poachers should be butchered.

      Would the critics of this local culture perhaps help balance it off:  Turn off all lights at nite along the beach areas in nesting season, and leave them alone to nest in peace.. and dont dig up the eggs?

      Yeah right!

      I guess the locals are the ones going out in dive boats and in Zodiacs and jet skis, and wringing off the lobster tails, leaving behind the heads on their "nite dives".

      • Anonymous says:

        How Can one be sure turtles pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals in a tank for a few years prior to laughter are fit for human consumption? Not aware of any regular FDA (or UK food safety) inspection of turtle meet farm raised in Cayman. Can the board of the farm please release some data on this.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody's out there "wringing off the lobster tails" – what a crock!  People use wild and creative scenarios like this to justify their "birthright" counter-poaching.  It's bad for everyone – please stop making things up!    

  22. Kadafe says:

    Dont let him go!! I fear he will be hunted relentlesly by our notorious poachers!! Not a great idea i think! A good alternatate would be is releasing 60 juniors? This seems to be a much better idea !

    • noname says:

      At least they got it right with allowing the turtle early retirement at 60!

      Is he strong enough to go on until 65?

    • Cheese Face says:

      Give this fella a freekin job! A betta idea than the whole LA have had in years!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Poor Fella he will probably go and hang himself.  Imagine After 60 years, where will he get a job, There is big restaurants and tall buildings where there was grass before.  The cars and the Busses dear me,  Seven Mile Beach is full of tourist and there are poachers every where.  What can I do. My Beak is old and my shell ios out of style.  I am too old and too tough to eat, What shall I do.

      • Anonymous says:

        We will find a piece of driftwood with "Brooks was here" carved into it…

    • Anonymous says:

      At age sixty his meat might be pretty tough! I hope he will survive.

  23. Anonymous says:

    now that this is announced i can bet someone will be out there waiting to scoop him up as soon as he is set free… he wont even flap his flippers 2 times in the open sea before he is cooked!!

  24. Belle & The Devotions says:

    Mmmm barbaric supper under feign of cultural expression . . . .

  25. Mutant Turtle says:

    This really is the dumbest thing! Who's idea was this?

  26. Anon says:

    But he's only 60…..I thought retirement age was going to be changed to 65? 🙂

  27. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they could release some old fossils from the civil service instead

  28. Brit says:

    Disgusting.  Keep him there otherwise some ignorant twit will catch him for food. You know they will be looking out for him if he is released as they will have seen this story!!!! How much more stupid can you be? 

    • jsftbhaedrg says:

      He looks tasty.

      I am picking up the breadfruits and trimmings this weekend.

      • Anonymous says:

        Me too I got a few breadfruits left on my tree, and some cassava, I will pick up some sweet potato and bake a corn bread.  The delicious turtle stew.  How good it is.  After all it is our national dish, so why do you want to take that away from us.  We do not like Mad Cow Meat, or Chicken foot ot Pig Belly.   Turtle meat is what we eat.  Let him go and see.

  29. Special Needs Donkey says:

    This is beyond stupid. The only possible explanation is that an influential constituent clearly wants some stew…………..

  30. Anonymous says:

    Poor thing. Officials turned him into a dependent, serving a life sentence of 30 years. Then let him loose into the wild to be eaten in honor of "God Save the Queen"

  31. Anonymous says:

    Don't do it.  This turtle has been in captivity for too long to be able to take care of himself in the wild.  Thirty years is a long time…save his life and keep him at the turtle farm.  Having been there this long, he deserves to be kept fit and happy for the rest of his life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wed 23:45 – Who said he was happy???  Now that we know from Mr. Adams that he was born in the wild and lived there for decades before coming to the Turtle Farm – he was probably just waiting for a chance to get back in the wild – the Farm might have been torture for him – just like we human beings put up with torture for decades so does most of these creatures. All things adapt to their natural habitat most of the time. Check to see the life span of a Turtle!