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Tagged Sea Turtles Named After Female Musicians

June 1, 2023
nighttime sea turtle tagging
nighttime sea turtle tagging

As of May 30, our nighttime sea turtle tagging team has encountered 86 unique sea turtles this nesting season. This includes turtles with existing tags that staff can identify and document, as well as turtles that were tagged for the first time this year.

“Sea turtles without tags could be first-time nesters, returning turtles that weren’t encountered by the team in previous years, or turtles that have nested on other beaches that aren’t monitored by nighttime teams,” said SCCF Sea Turtle Biologist Savannah Weber. “We’ve been seeing an average of four or five sea turtles each night, which is nearly twice the average last year at this time.” 

nighttime sea turtle tagging

After SCCF applies tags to these turtles — which allows staff and other scientists to see the individual’s nesting and movement patterns — our team also gets the pleasure of “naming” the turtle. Themes in past years have included shells, ice cream flavors, spices, and Pokémon. This year, the theme is female musical artists.

“Some of the names we’ve given turtles include Tina Turner, Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton,” Weber said.

Previously tagged turtles seen this year have included frequent nesters such as Venus and Conch, who have been encountered every one-to-two years since 2016. Staff were also pleased to see the return of Junonia, a satellite-tagged loggerhead (pictuered here) who has nested on Sanibel for six of the past seven years.

“Generally, sea turtles exhibit ‘natal homing,’ which means nesting females will lay nests near the same beach they hatched from,” Weber said. “Some turtles have very precise natal homing, where they lay nests within a few miles from the exact spot of beach from which they hatched. Others have more general homing, where they may lay anywhere within the general region of where they originally hatched.”

Since SCCF’s tagging project began in 2016, staff have encountered over 950 unique individual sea turtles.

Over 350 sea turtle nests have been laid on Sanibel and Captiva Islands this season.


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