Suzie's incredible journey
In January 2010, Suzie, the adult female green turtle and first turtle in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to be fitted with a satellite transmitter tag, arrived back in the TCI’s coastal waters after an amazing five month migration around the eastern Caribbean covering about 6,000 kilometres.
Suzie was tagged by the TCI Turtle Project after she was landed for the pot on the island of South Caicos at the end of June 2009. Her story hit the UK headlines later that year after she was tracked swimming straight to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, (also UK Overseas Territories), immediately after leaving the TCI on September 1st. After she left Anguilla, she went on to visit the coastal waters of Barbuda, Martinique, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
She spent about two weeks in Barbuda’s coastal waters, longer than anywhere else on her journey. Her tracking data strongly suggested she nested on Barbuda’s Low Bay on the night of the 18th October, and beach surveys carried out a few days later revealed fresh green turtle tracks. Her last port of call was Great Inagua in the Bahamas, where she arrived on the 8th of January, and it was from there that she swam to TCI. On Sunday 23rd January she arrived offshore of North West Point in Providenciales and is now making her way along the TCIs’ northern coast back to her feeding grounds off East Caicos.
"It was incredible!” said Amdeep Sanghera, TCI Turtle Project Officer, “It was great to have Suzie back in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe and sound. Her journey passed through the territorial waters of 15 different countries, and she has shown us that these countries each have a responsibility for the conservation of their shared turtle resources.”
“Suzie’s journey has really surprised us. It is well known that green turtles can migrate thousands of kilometres from their feeding grounds to their nesting beaches"' said Amdeep, "They usually lay several clutches of eggs during the nesting season, making these epic journeys worthwhile, but Suzie’s tracking data suggests she swam 6,000 kms around the Caribbean to lay just one clutch of eggs."
“Suzie became a local celebrity in TCI, especially here in South Caicos," said Tommy Philips, Conservation Officer with the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources in TCI, “During her journey we displayed her latest tracking maps in public places around South Caicos and everyone kept asking ‘Where’s Suzie at?! Seasoned turtle fishers have been amazed to learn that their turtles can travel so far, and some of them have started to think differently about the management of their fishery.’”
Click on the map below to open a bigger version
Map courtesy of Seaturtle.org