A GPS satellite tag on Tucker the green turtle's back is providing groundbreaking data. *Photo supplied
A GPS satellite tag on Tucker the green turtle's back is providing groundbreaking data. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24: A green turtle called Tucker is providing scientists in Bermuda with groundbreaking data about the migratory habits of its species.

Tucker’s transatlantic voyage towards Florida is being relayed to Conservation Services staff thanks to a GPS satellite tag on its back. It is the first time that a green turtle has been tracked by conservationists through a GPS tag after it has left the island.

Tucker was captured in August 10, this year, near Wreck Hill in Somerset. It was one of three turtles caught by Conservation Services that were tagged and later released as part of the department’s research into better understanding how green turtles use the Bermuda Platform.

Tucker has travelled an incredible 430 miles since the beginning of October and now looks to be heading to the sea grass meadows of Florida.

Sarah Manuel, marine conservation officer, told the Bermuda Sun: “This is an incredibly exciting development and the first time the Department of Conservation Services have been able to follow a turtle after it has left Bermuda. During August and September the furthest any of the turtles travelled was approximately a mile from where they were released. They all had certain areas within their mile radius that they would frequent. However on October 3 Tucker became unusually adventurous and went for a long swim offshore before returning to his usual haunts near Wreck Hill on October 5. On October 7, he again headed offshore, in a west south west direction, but this time he just kept going.  He has now travelled approximately 437 miles in a west south west direction towards Florida.”

The Bermuda Turtle Project (BTP) has attempted to track the movements of green turtles after they leave the island before.

But previous attempts to follow the turtles once they are in open water have been thwarted due to a range of different reasons.

Dr Manuel said: “The BTP tagged two turtles in August 2012 and has tagged several others over the past fifteen years.

“Only one BTP turtle with a functioning satellite tag has left Bermuda. This turtle named “Bermudiana” set off in August 1998 and headed in a west south west direction for three weeks

“But near the eastern tip of Cuba the satellite transmissions changed drastically and then stopped. It was assumed that the turtle was captured by a fisherman and that she may not have survived.”

The data provided by Tucker’s satellite tag will help provide conservationists in Bermuda with a raft of new information about the habits and movements of these endangered species.

It will also be used to help protect the green turtles in years to come. Dr Manuel added: “It will be interesting to see where Tucker’s journey ends. It is certainly going to be a test of his endurance and, perhaps, his luck.

“The satellite tag on Tucker should provide data on its location for the next eight months.”