SKN Vibes reports on the incredible journey of a leatherback turtle from the coast of St.Kitts in the Caribbean Sea to the shores of Massachusetts in the North Atlantic Ocean:
A female leatherback sea turtle bearing flipper tags WC 2551 on the left and WC 2507 on the right was captured August 9th, 2012 off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, by a research team led by Kara Dodge, a University of New Hampshire PhD student. These flipper tags have been tracked back to St. Kitts! The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) received this very exciting news Tuesday via Prof. Julia Horrocks, the Coordinator of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network’s (WIDECAST) Marine Turtle Tagging Centre at the University of West Indies in Barbados, who supply the flipper tags used by the SKSTMN.
Following a health assessment and transmitter placement, the female was given the name Kitty and was released. Kitty was only the third leatherback sea turtle to be flipper tagged in St. Kitts during the SKSTMN’s first year of leatherback night patrols in 2005. She was originally tagged on 26 April 2005 while nesting on Keys Beach and then returned to nest on Keys Beach three times in 2007, once on North Friars in 2009, and twice on Keys Beach in 2011. The SKSTMN expects to see Kitty again on the nesting beaches in St. Kitts in 2013 if she follows her established schedule.
The transmitter placed on her will provide important data over the course of the next few months and will enable scientists and the public to track her movements online. Kitty’s movements can now be tracked online by visiting SEATURTLE.ORG
It is not unusual for female leatherback sea turtles to migrate over 10,000 miles between their nesting and foraging grounds. This highly migratory nature makes them a shared resource both regionally and internationally and drives home the importance of sharing critical biological information gathered on both the nesting beaches and foraging grounds. Fortunately for Kitty, St Kitts has already taken steps to protect her nesting ground through the designation of the UNESCO St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve that includes Keys Beach, the main leatherback nesting beach on the island.