Turtle swims towards home in new found freedom

| 11/06/2012

090104094116-large.jpg(CNS): Sir Thomas Turtleton, a former long term resident of the Cayman Turtle Farm, has made the most of his new found freedom. The turtle, which was released last weekend to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, has dodged the poachers and made it all the way to the Nicaraguan border. The 60-year-old turtle, which weighs some 600lbs, was originally caught near Surinam, South America, in the 1970’s as an adult male and was part of the initial captive breeding stock at Mariculture Ltd, which became the Cayman Turtle farm. According to the satellite tracker fitted onto Sir Thomas, in just over a week of freedom the turtle has travelled 372 kilometres towards his original home. 

The turtle was released into the North Sound on the afternoon of Saturday 2 June after more than three decades in captivity. He is fitted with a satellite tag which is programmed to transmit when Sir Thomas surfaces and collect dive data and GPS positioning when he is underwater. Data reports so far show the turtle has been travelling at an average speed of 2.3 km/hr (1.4 mph). Over a set of 4-hour sampling periods, his maximum dive duration has ranged from 21 to 24 minutes, and after years of being in a shallow tank Sir Thomas is making the most of the ocean, having spent up to 97% of his time under water.

By Monday morning Sir Thomas Turtleton had arrived at the continental shelf off the coast of Honduras, near the border of Nicaragua. He was in the water between 100 metres and 200 metres deep and was still heading southwest. His average speed slowed down when he reached the shallower water.

You can follow Sir Thomas at http://www.seaturtle.org

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  1. Anonymous says:

    is it a 30 year rollover for turtles?

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is indeed encouraging that Sir Thomas Turleton has survived thus far in the wild – I was not expecting him to make it out of the North Sound. So, for his thirty years in captivity and stud servitude I hope he lives his remaining years in the natural environment.


    I would like to query the published information regarding his current location off the Nicaragua coast (verified by satellite tracking), versus the reference of his origin in Surinam. It has been scientifically established that female turtles return to the beach of their own hatching to lay their eggs. I'm not sure how that instictive behaviour relates to male turtles but, unquestionably, nature surpasses man's understanding so it might apply equally.  


    Considering that turtles and eggs were also collected from Nicaragua's Miskito coastline during the late 1960's, under approval of the Nicarguan Government of the day (and PRIOR TO THE CITES TREATY – for the benefit of environmentalist readers), and acknowldeging that there are no persons involved in the pioneering Mariculture activities forty-plus years ago still involved with Cayman Turtle Farm, thus ensuring accuracy and considering that the Farm's archival records may be unavailable after the damage of a few hurricanes and northwesters over the years; might it not be possible that Sir Turtleton originated from the Nicaragua coast to which he has now returned?


    After all, Surinam is not anywhere near Nicaragua and though thirty years in a captive pond may have diminished his natural instinctive navigation abilities, there must be some explanation why Turtleton headed southwest instead of say, north, east, west or indeed, southeast towards Surinam.  It would be good to be kept abreast of his continued progress.


    Just wondering.

  3. Anonymous says:

    and hopefully she doesnt weight 500 pounds and more gossip and scandal than a daytime soap opera!

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    He is off to find the lady-turtle that he left behind thirty years ago.

    Just hope she has been faithfully awaiting his return…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Mustn't be any lady turtles in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      No he just doing like a lot of the Caymanian men do and gone south to get a Spanish lady!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I honestly didnt think he's make it out the Sound but I guess none of the Cayman poachers wanted to be known for killing Sir Turtle Stew.  I do find it odd that they would retire him and then put him to work as now he must fend for himself after spending 30 years being fed and cared for.  I just hope he doesnt end up in another country where is is less celebrity and more meal ticket.  Safe travels!

  7. LOL22 says:

    Sixty years in Captivity and finally people have a conscience to let him free?  So for sixty years he has been dependent upon humans for food, safety, etc and now all of a sudden he's on his own to fend for himself? Sorry, but I don't agree with this at all. Release them after 10 or 15 years… but after sixty years?

    • Anonymous says:

      No. Thirty years in captivity and finally people have a conscience to let him free.  So for the first thirty years of life he was free; then the next thirty years of his life he has been dependent upon humans for food, safety, etc. and now all of a sudden he's on his own to fend for himself again.

      All the same, I had my doubts and worries about him being able to fend for himself after being released from 30 years in captivity… so far he has (gladly) proved me wrong and I sincerely hope he survives and learns to readapt to his new (free) surroundings.

      All we can do is hope and pray for the best for Sir Thomas Turtleton.

    • Anonnymous says:

      Thirty years in captivity. – not sixty,  He was already very familiar with the wild when they he was brought to the farm from Surinam.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seeing Sir Thomas Turtleton swim free again was a wonderful experience.  Tracking him as he swims to Central America will be interesting. 

    Animals are much smarter that many people who do not have the slightest indication of where they are going, they have a sense of direction that our MLAs do not have in long term environmental matters.

    When will we ever see our National Conservation Law (the original April 2004 Version submitted to the Legislative Assembly by the Hon Premier in 2004, not the watered down, toothless version submitted in 2007, it is a worthless compromise to satisfy developers)?

    Now the Premier says that he too now does not support the Draft National Conservation Law 2004 he submitted to the Legislative Assembly.  He is dancing to the sound of the drum beats coming from the mega developers!

    Fun is made by some politicians of the Environmental Fund established at the recommendation of our own Department of the Environment.

    Our unappreciated natural environment supports our tourism which has always been eco tourism of sun, sand, sea; it feeds us; it supports our recreational lifestyle; it is the basis of our culture; it gives us great economic benefits and it keeps us healthy.

    Our natural environment has suffered because of the vast lobby dollars of developers; to date they have been successful in stopping the Natural Conservation Law and our Development Plan from moving forward.  In their greed for rewards today they just do not realize that without both of these laws their industry will suffer in the long term.

    Is there one current MLA or one of the many persons seeking to become an MLA in the next election who will stand up and say YES, I support the Draft Natural Conservation Law 2004 and will complete the drafting of our first ever Development Plan Law which was started in 2001?

    William H. Adam

    Yes, please print my name.

  9. Anonymous says:

    9 days of freedom is better than a lifetime in captivity. If this turtle could speak, I’m sure the only word it would say is “WeeEeeee” This is truly a beautiful thing. God bless the Turtle Farm! MY OPINION!

  10. Anonymous says:

    So far so good.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It will end in tears.

    • Anonymous says:

      So, after being raised in a protective environment this turtle just released in the wild? Did it occur to anyone that because of lack of exposure he could find himself in a very aggressive, wild world within which he is unable to function and his safety could be seriously impaired? Just saying …

      • Anonymous says:

        He wasn’t raised in captivity, he was 30 years in the wild first, then 30 years in captivity…and was captured it seems, near to where he is heading…..perhaps his instincts have come to the fore, good luck to him, hopefully he will live the rest of his days in freedom and living the life he was designed for.

        • Anonymous says:

          FYI, Suriname is not exactly near Nicaragua, nothwithstanding the Farm's press release.

        • Anonymous says:

          I truly hope you are right.  It would make such a happy ending for Mr Turtleton.

      • CaymanWaters says:

        I just pray that Sir Thomas Turtleton hurry finds a wife one who can rumba salsa and meringue, because I believer he is going to need an agressive companian where he is going.   I would really like to know why it was chosen to let him ago along the Nicaguara border.   Take care of yourself my friend, and if you do not like it over there just turn around and come back home.  We love you.

        • Anonymous says:

          Nobody chose to release him on the Nicaraguan border he was released right here in Cayman, and has made his way to the Nicaraguan border all by himself. 

          All of this is clear in the article you are responding to.  Might have helped if you read it properly before replying perhaps?

        • Anonymous says:

          He was not let go along the Nicaraguan border. He swam there on his way home.

    • Riverbed says:

      Will end up in Nicagaruan borders.  What happen to you people, they were the first settlers to Cayman poaching turtle.  Why do you think they do not eat them any more.

      Sir Thomas Turtleton, I just wish you luck.  You might have survived in Cayman because of your popularity, but Nicagura Border.????

    • Anonymous says:

      By “tears” you mean a pot.

    • Proof-Reader says:

      You spelled ‘where’ incorrectly or mistyped and missed the h? (were will he go). Otherwise very cute and light hearted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably too late to fix it now but you've got a misspelled word in that video. And lots of people in the way so you don't  get to see him swim away.