STC Programs: Research: Sea Turtle Flipper Tag Returns

Green turtles were first tagged with flipper tags at Tortuguero, Costa Rica in 1955. Since then, almost 48,000 sea turtles have been tagged at Tortuguero. Some of these turtles have been recaptured by fishermen and others away from the Tortuguero nesting beach, providing us with useful information about sea turtle migrations and emphasizing the shared nature of the sea turtle resource.

Today, sea turtles are tagged at many projects throughout the Caribbean. Collaboration between conservation organizations in Costa Rica is demonstrated by the leatherback tag return map that includes information from four tagging projects. Although flipper tagging has helped us to learn much about sea turtle migration, satellite telemetry has to be employed to find out the exact movements of sea turtles after they leave the nesting beach.

Location of green turtle tag returns from STC’s tagging program in Tortuguero since 1955


Locations of hawksbill tag returns from STC’s tagging program in Tortuguero since 1955


Location of leatherback tag returns from the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica since 1955

Leatherback data provided in association with Asociación ANAI, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and the Save the Sea Turtles of Parismina.

Thanks to ESRI for providing ArcView GIS and Spatial Analyst.