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60 year old turtle to be freed after 30 years at Centre

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60 year old turtle to be freed after 30 years at Centre
30May 2012

The Cayman Turtle Centre has announced its intention to release one of its oldest breeders back into the ocean. The decision to release such a mature animal, the Centre said, was to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of Elizabeth II on Saturday, 2 June. The adult turtle, which weighs over 600lbs and is estimated to be sixty years old, has been part of the Centre’s breeding stock for over thirty years. The mature male turtle will be fitted with a tracking tag and released into the North Sound at the former Safehaven site, after which scientists will follow his progress and assess his re-introduction in to the wild after three decades in captivity.


Dubbed "Sir Thomas Turtleton" in honour of the jubilee, he is the first turtle of this age and size to be released into the wild by the Cayman Turtle Centre. Sir Thomas will be part of the Centre’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry”, the Centre’s first satellite-tracked turtle.

In the tag and track programme, green sea turtles fitted with satellite transmitters are released into the ocean and monitored online.  When the animal surfaces during a transmission period, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.

As Sir Thomas Turtleton travels following his release, the team at the Cayman Turtle Centre will be able to use the data as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Centre and in like-minded organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.


It is hoped that the data from Sir Thomas Turtleton’s track may be compared with the track of younger released turtles and determine the behaviour of older turtles versus the younger turtles usually released by the Cayman Turtle Centre at between two and three years of age.


“We felt this turtle release would be a fitting celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee by the Cayman Turtle Centre as it celebrates both history and progress,” said Chief Marketing Officer Tina Trumbach. “Sir Thomas Turtleton has made a tremendous contribution to the breeding and conservation efforts at the Cayman Turtle Centre over the years, and we felt it was an opportune time to celebrate his history and release him back to his original habitat. By making his release a part of our Tag and Track release programme, we can also contribute to progress in research on mature turtles released into the wild.”


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