The young Loggerhead turtles were monitored by satellite as they made their journey – the equivalent of travelling from London to Mumbai. Scientists customised the 9gm tracker tags normally used for birds, making them waterproof, before gluing them onto the reptiles’ shells.Jeanette Wyneken and Kate Mansfield, from Florida Atlantic University, said they were amazed at the length of the journey made by the 17 tiny turtles.
‘This is the first time turtles aged four months have ever been tagged and tracked by satellite,’ said Dr Wyneken.’Previously we have never known what these young turtles do once they leave their beach nests and swim off into the ocean.
‘It was important to us that the tags did not stop them from behaving normally. Thankfully they acted as if there was nothing attached to there backs at all.
‘Seaweed is an important habitat for the turtles and they had no problem moving around it.’
Using data transmitted by the tags, the team was able to map every movement.
Dr Wyneken said: ‘The turtles varied a lot in their movements, more so than we expected. They’re likely doing much more than just paddling straight to the deep water and riding the current.
‘We’re very happy and excited by the results.’
The hand-sized reptiles were between four and six months old when they were released 10-miles east of Palm Beach and weighed only 300 grams.
When they are between six and eight months of age they outgrow the tags which fall off into the sea.
‘We’re trying to protect them from harm,’ said Jeanette.