Date: August 17, 1998
Contact: Dan Evans
Phone: (352) 373-6441
ASSATEAGUE, VA– For the first time ever, a threatened loggerhead turtle that was rehabilitated at the National Aquarium in Baltimore after an illness is being released to the wild carrying a satellite transmitter that will allow researchers and the public to monitor the turtle’s migration on the Internet. The Aquarium, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the nonprofit Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) have teamed up on this unique experiment to learn when and where this juvenile loggerhead travels after it is returned to the wild off Assateague Island on Friday, August 14. By posting the turtle’s migration path on mapsaccessible for free on the Internet, the STSL hopes people around the country, especially school children, will take a special interest in this particular turtle, while learning more about sea turtles and the various threats they face.
The juvenile loggerhead turtle, nicknamed Perdida (Spanish for lost), was found “cold-stunned” (hypothermic) 10 months ago, after it washed up nearly dead on a Delaware beach. The turtle was rescued and nursed back to health at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. David Schofield, Coordinator of the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program, said, “We’re glad this animal has a second chance at life in the wild. Unfortunately, many animals that strand aren’t so lucky.”
By studying the movements of this particular turtle, researchers with the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hope to learn more about the areas used by sea turtles to feed and forage along the east coast. “The more we understand about the habitats used by these turtles,” said Dan Evans, Education Coordinator, “the better we will be able to protect them.”
Scientists at the Aquarium came up with the idea to track Perdida by satellite after learning of a research and education Program being conducted by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and the Corps of Engineers, which allows anyone with access to the Internet to track the movements of sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Migration-Tracking Education Program uses the tracking of sea turtles as a hook for getting kids and others interested in learning more about the species. Once Perdida’s migration map is posted on the web page (located at www.conserveturtles.org), the education Program will include over 20 sea turtles being actively monitored. Many of the turtles were tagged in Florida, while others were fitted with satellite transmitters in Bermuda and Panama.
In addition to a wealth of background information about sea turtles, the web site includes a series of maps that are regularly updated with the most recent migratory movements of each turtle being tracked. Scientists offer weekly reports on-line, and observers have an opportunity to submit questions or offer comments. The Program is aimed at helping people around the world, especially school children, learn about the migration of turtles, the global range of the species and the importance of protecting all coastal waters and habitats. CCC also invites people to “Adopt” any of the turtles being tracked with a $25 donation. Through the satellite-tracking Program and optional turtle adoptions, CCC hopes that children and adults will take a personal interest in sea turtle preservation, learn about the natural history of sea turtles, and become aware of numerous issues impacting the species.
To utilize this free Program or to adopt a satellite-tagged turtle, call (800) 678-7853 or go directly to our website at www.conserveturtles.org. Teachers wanting to incorporate the Program in their school curriculum can register on-line to download a free Educator’s Guide with background information, worksheets and ideas for fun, educational classroom activities.