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31st Annual Turtle Release to take place during Pirate's Week

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31st Annual Turtle Release to take place during Pirate's Week
13Dec 2011

The Cayman Turtle Centre:   Island Wildlife Encounter, along with the Pirate’s Week Committee, will be holding the 31st Annual Turtle Release on Sunday, November 13th, 2011 at 4pm.  The release will take place in the North Sound, off Safe Haven (North Sound Golf Course).  The event, which is always scheduled during the Pirate’s Week Festivities, has grown to become one of the most popular events during the November celebrations.

The public is invited to join the Centre in its conservation efforts.  This year visitors to the Centre, leading up the event, can enter a raffle for a chance to release one of five Hatchlings into the sea.

The release will include 9 yearlings and up to 40 advanced hatchlings, depending on sponsorship.  Yearlings will be fitted with Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT tags) which are micro transponders encased in a glass case about the size of a large grain of rice.  These electronic tags are injected under the skin and can only be detected with a scanner (similar to wand scanners used at the grocery store).  These and other types of tags allow researchers around the world to identify individual animals and better understand migration and nesting patterns.  Last season, 5 females tagged and released from the Cayman Turtle Centre in the 1980s, returned to lay their own eggs on Cayman beaches.

The Centre’s release program, known to biologists as ‘headstarting’, has placed over thirty-one thousand green sea turtles into the wild since 1980.  Historically, the Cayman Islands boasted one of the largest green sea turtle populations in the Caribbean and possibly the world. Indeed there were so many turtles that upon discovery of the Islands in 1503 Christopher Columbus named them ‘Las Tortugas’.  However, from as early as the Seventeenth Century, this natural resource had become commercially extinct and by 1900, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had deemed this population to be extinct in the Cayman Islands.  Today, according to the Department of Environment, there are less than thirty adult female green sea turtles nesting in the Cayman Islands each year.  To this end, one objective of the headstarting program is to help replenish the local population of reproducing green sea turtles. 

To take part in this historic event or to find out more about sponsorship opportunities call 949.3894 or email