Sandy’s Journey

Sandy’s satellite transmitter provides much needed data on the movements of captive reared sea turtles that are released to the wild.

SANDY, THE LITTLE LOGGERHEAD’S BIG ADVENTURE

On July 12, 2013, Dean Bagley (Vice President of IRG), attached a satellite transmitter to a captive reared loggerhead sea turtle (Sandy) as part of our partnership with the Environmental Studies Center (ESC) in Jensen Beach, Florida. Inwater Research Group provided funding for this project through a grant to the Environmental Studies Council, a nonprofit charged with the stewardship of the center. This project and partnership furthers our mission of education through scientific research. Through this research we will provide much needed data to regulatory agencies on the movements of captive reared sea turtles that are released to the wild. Click here to learn more about Sandy and the Environmental Studies Center.

You can even get Daily Updates from Sandy’s Journey!

Background

Sandy is a juvenile loggerhead that has made its home at the Environmental Studies Center (ESC) in Jensen Beach, Florida for the past two years. This little loggerhead was left on the doorstep of Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center (FOCC) on Hutchinson Island in Martin County, Florida, on January 19, 2011. A note stated that it was found as a hatchling, probably less than a day old, on August 14, 2010, being pursued by a gull, taken home and reared in an aquarium until taken to FOCC. The name given to the turtle there, Squirt, was changed to Sandy in a contest among school district kindergarten classes when it arrived at the Environmental Studies Center. At the time of its arrival at the Center, Sandy measured 19.9 cm and weighed 1.5 kg. At the last weigh-in, Sandy measured 48.5 cm. straight carapace length and 17.5 kg. Sandy’s gender has not been determined. Sandy was released into the Indian River Lagoon north of the St. Lucie Inlet on Florida’s east coast on 12 July 2013.

The ESC in Jensen Beach, Florida, is owned by the Martin County School District. The Center provides hands-on environmental and educational experiences for each of the more than 10.000 school age children that visit each year. Every child between kindergarten and seventh grade enrolled in Martin County schools comes to learn about terrestrial and marine habitats (including sea turtles) during the school year, and many return for summer camp.

Sandy has been fitted with a Wildlife Computers SPOT5 satellite transmitter, programmed to transmit data every other day. The transmitter was attached by Inwater Research Group, Inc., which also provided start-up funding for the project.

Loggerheads of this size are most commonly found on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Never having lived in the open ocean, Sandy was released with the satellite transmitter in order to understand how a captive-reared loggerhead will respond to its new environment. This is a unique opportunity to see whether this turtle will try to make the life history migration it has missed or whether it will find suitable habitat and remain in Florida. These data are essential to understanding the cost/benefit of holding captive loggerheads for educational display purposes and will help the State of Florida make decisions about future display animals. It will also provide a wonderful opportunity for the thousands of school children who have known Sandy for the last two years to be able to watch and learn from Sandy’s “travels”.