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Our Annual Turtle Release

The average Hatchery egg collection for the last two years was 27,500 eggs, and over 31,000 Yearlings have been Released so far up to today.  Every year in November during the Pirate’s Week – a week long Carnival Celebration, always falling on the same day as the West Bay Heritage Day, lucky members of the public are chosen from a raffle to join the Crew of the Centre in releasing several turtles.

To reap the maximum benefits from these thousands of locally released turtles which was developed by Professor John Hendrickson and Lupe Hendrickson of the University of Arizona. This tagging method involves the auto grafting of a small, white dot of belly shell onto the turtle's dark coloured back. This done when the turtle is only a few days old. As the animal grows, the dot grows with it. This tagging method is tremendously significant as it is the only method whereby a tiny sea turtle hatching may be identified as a 300 pound adult more than 15 years later on a nesting beach. This tagging may allow scientists to discover whether or not sea turtles actually return to the beach from which they hatch to nest. DoE information from the past three years shows several living tagged turtles returning to nest in Grand Cayman. Information from these tagged turtles will help determine the benefits of "head-starting", a widely used conservation technique of releasing older turtles in the hopes of better insuring their survival in the wild. There is a scientific paper called “They came back” written by DoE and others that prove the Headstarting programme works.

Since the Centre has begun local turtle releases, the sightings of green sea turtles by divers and residents living along the coast have been common. To fully assess the re-establishment of a Cayman turtle population, the Centre, with the cooperation of the Cayman Islands Government, has initiated both aerial and ground level surveys of the beaches and waters surrounding the islands. The public has cooperated by providing information on turtle sightings and nestings. Because of observed dog and crab predation and increased public use of all beaches, reported nests are relocated to the Cayman Turtle Centre's hatchery for incubation. All hatchlings are then returned to the collection beach for release.

A tag-recapture program  which allows for the collection of data regarding survival and growth of the turtles released by the Cayman Turtle Centre. As well as the "living tag" on their fore-flipper which identifies an individual animal. Using turtle nets, the turtles are recaptured, weighed, measured, and released immediately. The titanium tag also provides information that enables individuals finding these animals in areas away form the Cayman Islands to return capture information to the Centre. The majority of tag returns have come from Cuba, with returns also from Honduras, Venezuela, the United States, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Information thus far correlated suggests that the turtles adapt well to natural conditions when released as yearlings, and that their release site in the Cayman Islands dictates whether or not they migrate away from the Islands or stay in Cayman waters. Significantly, the release program of the Centre has demonstrated that "head-started" turtles do assimilate into a natural environment.

For additional information regarding the release program please email info@turtle.ky.

President in Cabrera for release of rescued turtles

The president of the Balearic government, José Ramón Bauzá , visited the island of Cabrera last week to help with the release of three rescued loggerhead turtles. The environment minister and the mayor of Palma accompanied him at what has become an annual event at the National Park off the coast of Mallorca. Each year this endangered species passes through the Balearic waters on its migratory journey from the eastern Atlantic and other areas within the Mediterranean. The turtles are often wounded after being caught up in fishing nets or trapped amongst floating waste. Two of the three turtles released yesterday required operations before being nursed back to health and returned to their natural habitat. The turtle conservation programme is organised by the Marineland foundation of the Balearics and funded by the regional government. The annual release of the turtles after a period of convalescence is designed to publicise their work and highlight the need to protect marine species and their habitats.

Annual Laguna Phuket Turtle Release ceremony

Organised by Laguna Phuket, the Turtle Release ceremony is an ongoing effort to protect Thailand’s endangered sea turtles. On 3 April 2009, young participants from the Seedlings programme were invited to join in the festivities and play their part in turtle conservation. The children were given the rare opportunity to hold the young hatchlings in their hands before an emotional send-off that saw them disappear from the shoreline and into the Andaman Sea.