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Satellite Tracking

Why did animal X stop transmitting?

Movements and Habitat Associations of Neonate Sea Turtles

A project of FWC in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.

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NameSpeciesLife StageRelease DateLast LocationDays Transmitted
Chibi-chan Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-06-052011-07-1439
Diez Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-09-162011-10-2943
Eddy Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-08-132011-09-2745
Litiopa Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-07-122011-08-0524
Mat Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-07-062011-08-0732
Nipper Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-07-062011-08-0934
Robot Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-06-032011-07-1037
Scar-lett Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-07-072011-07-2720
Sharky Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-06-042011-06-2622
Snapper Kemp's Ridleyoceanic juvenile2011-08-132011-10-2371

Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.


Like most other sea turtles, Kemp’s ridley has an oceanic/pelagic juvenile stage. Because these young turtles live their lives on the open sea, they are almost never seen in the wild, and almost nothing is known of their behavior, habitat use, or movements.

This study of juvenile ridleys follows eight years of investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into the lives of young, oceanic turtles in the Gulf of Mexico—what they eat, how they forage, and where they live relative to oceanographic features and the pelagic Sargassum drift community. This application of satellite transmitters marks the first time that wild, pelagic, juvenile sea turtles have been tracked over long distances and time periods.

Tracking these small turtles is a challenge. The transmitter must be small so as to not hinder the turtle’s movement, and the attachment method must allow the turtles to grow. For this challenge, we chose a style of transmitter and attachment method recommended by Kate Mansfield and Jeanette Wyneken. The transmitter is one designed for flying birds—a 9.5 gram solar-powered tag. The attachment of this tag was by flexible aquarium silicone adhesive. This attachment will allow the turtle’s shell to grow substantially before eventually causing the tag to fall off.

The need for information on these young turtles in the open sea reached an urgency following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf in 2010. Of the hundreds of oiled sea turtles rescued from the spill area during the disaster, the majority were pelagic juvenile ridleys like the turtles in this study. It is hypothesized that their close association with zones of convergence made these turtles particularly susceptible to surface oil. A key objective of this study is to describe how pelagic ridleys use these and other oceanographic features, including the Sargassum drift community, which occurs in patches and lines assembled by surface water movement.

Project Sponsors

Funding for this work is provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s cooperative agreement with the State of Florida.


  • The presentation of data here does not constitute publication. All data remain copyright of the project partners. Maps or data on this website may not be used or referenced without explicit written consent.
  • For more information please visit the project website.

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