A project of Marine Turtle Research Group in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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When Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands in 1503, he named them "Las Tortugas" (the turtles). Ferdinand Columbus recounted that the islands were "?full of tortoises, as was all the sea about, insomuch as that they looked like little rocks?" The green turtle population was estimated at over 6.5 million turtles at the time of the discovery, and turtle fishing ("turtling") came to form the basis of the economy and culture of the Cayman Islands. This historical importance is memorialized in our Coat of Arms and currency, but by the beginning of the 19th century, commercial exploitation had driven the immense green turtle nesting population in the Cayman Islands to the brink of extinction.
Wild turtles continue have a central place in the memories and experiences of many of our citizens, but today, only a few dozen nesting sea turtles remain. Where do these endangered greens and loggerheads go after they leave our beaches? With the help of schools and the community, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and the Marine Turtle Research Group have begun a satellite telemetry project to track our historically and culturally important sea turtles for the first time.
This project represents a collaborative effort between the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and the Marine Turtle Research Group.
The Department of Environment and MTRG would like to thank Erika and Jacob Olde for their sponsorship of ?Samia? and Year 7 and 8 students of St. Ignatius High School for their sponsorship of "Shelby" and "Myles." St. Ignatius students received generous donations from Rotary International, Bank of Butterfield, Tortuga Rum Company, and the Final Touch. This research is also supported by Cayman Wildlife Connection, and a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to MTRG. Finally, Sirtrack Inc made this project possible by providing custom-build KiwiSat 101 PTTs almost immediately after St. Ignatius students completed their fund-raising and an order was placed.