15/02/2019

Four tags still transmitting- where are they now? Following the travels of loggerhead sea turtles from Kyparissia

Last summer in Kyparissia, ARCHELON’s team led by Alan Rees attached satellite tags to nine female loggerheads. At the time of writing this, in early February 2019, four tags are still providing daily locations for the turtles on which they have been placed. Based on these transmissions, it seems that one of the four turtles, “Polymnia”, migrated 1000km to the coastal waters of Libya and remains there. The second, “Vera”, made it three quarters of the way up the Adriatic, initially resident near the coast of Italy, but subsequently moved offshore and closer to Croatia.

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The last two turtles, “Thalia” and “Thetis”, have remained wanderers since arriving on the Tunisian shelf and have followed remarkably similar trajectories. After originally remaining offshore between Sicily and Tunisia in the eastern Mediterranean, they both moved northwest into the western Mediterranean where they remained in the shallow shelf waters north of Tunisia. More recently, with the cooling of the sea, they have returned to the eastern Mediterranean and are currently within a few tens of kilometres of the Italian off-shore islands of Lampedusa and Linosa.

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It is not possible to know what happened to the rest of the tags, or the turtles since they stopped transmitting. With the exception of one: sadly, one of these turtles was accidentally caught in a net east of Kerkennah Islands in Tunisia and died from the encounter. The fisherman contacted the tag manufacturer in the USA who in turn contacted ARCHELON and thanks to a local sea turtle group in Tunisia we were able to retrieve the tag and collect it during the Mediterranean sea turtle conference in Croatia! This tag will be recycled to be deployed on another turtle in the summer of 2019.

In a couple of months turtles will begin their migrations back to their nesting beaches to breed again. Maybe one or more of these four turtles will be recorded making that migration and thus a complete breeding cycle will have been tracked.

ARCHELON’s satellite tagging project aims to investigate the inter-nesting and post –nesting migrations of the nesting turtles and is supported by MAVA foundation in Switzerland.

Maps of their movements can be seen in the website http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?project_id=1299&dyn=1549474445. These were commented by Alan Rees, member of the Scientific Board of ARCHELON.

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