A project of Environmental Studies Center in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Clark is a juvenile loggerhead that has made its home at the Environmental Studies Center (ESC) in Jensen Beach, Florida, for the past two years. In February, 2008, Clark was housed at the Turtle Kraals Museum in Key West. When that facility closed, the turtle was moved temporarily to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, and then transferred by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to the Environmental Studies Center in June 2009. At the time of its arrival at the Center, Clark measured 23.5 cm. straight carapace length and 2.2 kg. At the last weigh-in, Clark measured 47 cm. straight carapace length and 15 kg. Clark’s gender has not been determined. Clark was released into the Indian River Lagoon north of the St. Lucie Inlet on Florida’s east coast on 22 June 2011.
The ESC in Jensen Beach, Florida, is owned by the Martin County School District. The Center provides hands-on environmental and educational experiences for each of the more than 10.000 school age children that visit each year. Every child between kindergarten and seventh grade enrolled in Martin County schools comes to learn about terrestrial and marine habitats (including sea turtles) during the school year, and many return for summer camp.
Clark has been fitted with a Wildlife Computers SPOT5 satellite transmitter, programmed to transmit data every other day. The transmitter was applied by Inwater Research Group, Inc., which also provided start-up funding for the project.
Loggerheads of this size are most commonly found on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Never having lived in the open ocean, Clark was released with the satellite transmitter in order to understand how a captive-reared loggerhead will respond to its new environment. This is a unique opportunity to see whether this turtle will try to make the life history migration it has missed or whether it will find suitable habitat and remain in Florida. These data are essential to understanding the cost/benefit of holding captive loggerheads for educational display purposes and will help the State of Florida make decisions about future display animals. It will also provide a wonderful opportunity for the thousands of school children who have known Clark for the last two years to be able to watch and learn from Clark’s “travels”. Learn more about Clark and the Center at http://esc.martinschools.org.
Inwater Research Group (IRG) partnered with the ESC to provide the means to satellite track this captive-reared loggerhead. IRG has been studying sea turtles in Florida waters since 2001, and has recently been involved with the recovery of oiled turtles during the oil spill in 2010. They continue to work in the Key West NWR and in several coastal counties. Learn more at www.inwater.org.