Follow Montserrat's tagged turtles on the move

3 minute read

The Montserrat Marine Turtle Project has successfully tagged 10 female turtles as part of our collaborative conservation project in Montserrat. Now you can track their journey as they begin their migration.

The UK Overseas Territory of Montserrat is an important nesting site for marine turtles in the Caribbean region – yet little is known about their numbers or where they go when they migrate.

We've been working with the Government of Montserrat and the University of Exeter to develop a Marine Turtle Action Plan for Montserrat to ensure evidence-based decisions are made about turtle conservation.

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A green turtle returns to sea with a satellite tag after nesting on a Montserrat beach

Credit: Jack Wiggins/UoE

What does the project involve?

The Montserrat Marine Turtle Project will gather biological data, including nesting beach surveys and satellite tracking of the breeding female turtles.

We'll also be using our tried-and-tested Community Voice Method to record the thoughts, opinion, values and knowledge of local people to factor into the plan.

Engaging with communities is vital for the recovery and management of marine turtle populations. Find out more about our turtle conservation work in Montserrat.

John, Alwyn Gerard, our Government of Montserrat partners with a tagged turtle.

Beach patroller Gerrard with Montserrat project lead Alwyn Ponteen and local turtle expert John Jeffers with a satellite tagged green turtle.

Credit: Jack Wiggins/UoE

A long journey

Marine turtles migrate seasonally between their temperate feeding grounds and tropical nesting grounds. Suzie, one of our tagged green turtles in Turks and Caicos Islands, travelled a record-breaking 6000km across the Caribbean over the course of nine months.

Once a marine turtle hatches and heads into the ocean, it rarely returns to land. Green turtles stay in shallow waters until the breeding season. When the females are ready to nest, they travel back to the beach where they were born.

By tracking Montserrat's turtles we hope to learn more about where they go and understand regionally what needs to be done to conserve them.

Follow their progress

So far, the project team has satellite-tagged 10 nesting female turtles (nine green turtles and one hawksbill) as they are about to start their migrations.

We're excited to see the turtles are already on the move – you can track them here on our interactive map.

If you want to find out more about how satellite tracking works you can visit the University of Exeter blog to understand more.

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The live map is updated at least daily (click link above). The different coloured lines represent the tracks of the 10 individual turtles we have tagged. The map is showing the most and least accurate tracking fixes, with some suggesting the turtles are inland. Please ignore those inaccurate positions, these female turtles are in the sea unless they come up on the beaches to nest.

UPDATE 22nd October 2021

Female hawksbill turtle Ellia (green track) has safely settled in Guadeloupe's waters - a reef there must be her home. Female green turtle Isla (blue track) has settled in the southern inshore waters of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. She is in the exact same area where another female green turtle settled when we tracked back in 2010 after she nested in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Meanwhile, female green turtle  Laynakiki (pink track) is on the move again. Earlier and between nests, she visited Dominica and Guadeloupe to the south before returning to Montserrat. Now she has headed North East to Antigua and is mooching around Cades Reef off the south coast. Is this where she calls her home or she still in the mood for some island-hopping?

Watch this space to find out!

Conservation team, Montserrat. Peter Richardson.

Turtle conservation team, Montserrat

Credit: Peter Richardson

  1. The project is funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Plus initiative, which provides vital funding to support projects aiming to protect the natural environment of the UKOT’s.
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