August 1, 2005
The movements of 12 loggerhead sea turtles along the Atlantic coastline can
be tracked online at
www.seaturtle.org as part of a satellite telemetry research project by
the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
Those interested in supporting the conservation of this threatened species
also have the option to adopt one of the tagged turtles online by making a
WRD biologists are monitoring movements of female loggerhead sea turtles
during the summer inter-nesting season in the second year of a two-year
project. Twelve adult female loggerheads were captured and fitted with
satellite transmitters in May after nesting on Sapelo Island and Blackbeard
Island on the Georgia coast. Locations are plotted online, and can be
viewed by clicking on Satellite Tracking, then on Georgia Loggerhead
Tracking Project 2005. The option to adopt a tracked animal is also
available through this screen.
We are excited to make this information easily accessible to citizens, and
hope that it will serve to educate the public about this sensitive and
fascinating species, said WRD Wildlife Biologist Mark Dodd.
Transmitters will send multiple signals each day through August while the
turtles are actively nesting, and less frequently afterward. WRD biologists
are manually tracked the turtles by boat in June and July to make more
The information from the satellite gives us general movement patterns, and
manual tracking by boat helps us observe fine-scale movements and habitat
usage, Dodd said.
The project recently entered its second phase, as biologists study
movements of the 12 females as they migrate from Georgia’s coastal waters.
The year’s first recorded sea turtle hatching on Georgia’s coast occurred
on Cumberland Island July 18.
Students from across the state and others submitted names for the tagged
turtles. The names chosen for 2005 were Atlantica, Taylor Williams, 5th
grade at Early County Elementary, Blakley, Ga.; Cabretta, submitted by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Blackbeard Island Refuge staff; Coral,
submitted by Christopher Almager, 5th grade at Early County Elementary,
Blakley, Ga.; Georgia, submitted by Wyatt Gunthorpe, 2nd grade at Mansfield
Elementary, Mansfield, Ga.; Gypsy, submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Blackbeard Island Refuge staff; Maureen, submitted by Taleigha
Cyiark, 2nd grade at Satilla Marsh Elementary, Brunswick, Ga.; Pearl,
submitted by Dalton Biggers, 3rd grade, Mansfield Elementary, Mansfield,
Ga.; Queen Anne, submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Blackbeard
Island Refuge staff; Sapelo Queen, submitted by the turtle crew on Sapelo
Island; Sea Weed, submitted by James Parker and Cody Simpson, 5th grade,
Union Point Elementary, Union Point, Ga., and Jackson White, 4th grade,
Montessori School of Covington, Covington, Ga.; Teach, submitted by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Blackbeard Island Refuge staff; and Zapala,
submitted by the turtle crew on Sapelo Island.
Listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the
loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is Georgia’s primary nesting sea
turtle. Female loggerheads come ashore to lay their eggs from May through
August, and the hatchlings return to the sea approximately 60 days later.
Researchers expect Georgia’s coast will see about 1,000 loggerhead nests in
Funded primarily by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the turtle
telemetry project will document movements of Georgia’s adult loggerhead sea
turtles during the nesting season and compare their distributions with
Georgia’s shrimp trawling activity. The study will also document migratory
paths and foraging habitats of Georgia’s nesting loggerheads and compare
their distributions with fishing activity.
The federal funding requires a 25 percent match from state funds, which
will come from money generated by sales of the nongame wildlife specialty
license plates featuring a bald eagle.
The protection and management of loggerhead nesting populations has
occurred in Georgia since as early as 1964, when researchers established a
nest protection program on Little Cumberland Island as a result of concern
over declining nesting stocks. By 1989, all of Georgia’s barrier islands
except for Williamson, Little Tybee, Pine and Wolf Islands were being
monitored. In 1994, island managers adopted the Georgia Loggerhead Recovery
and Habitat Protection Plan to standardize nest management procedures for
To support important conservation, recreation and education efforts like
the sea turtle telemetry project as well as other conservation programs for
Georgia’s nongame wildlife, Georgians may purchase a wildlife license plate
for their vehicles. The primary source of funding for the Nongame Wildlife
and Natural Heritage Section, the plate depicts a bald eagle silhouetted
before the American flag. This tag can be purchased at local county tag