Leatherback Tracking!

We are tracking Sandy Point leatherbacks! We use GPS and satellite technology to follow some of our turtles once they leave our nesting beaches to see where else they may be nesting and to follow their northward migration after the nesting season. SEE the current tracks here!

Sponsor our turtles! If you’d like to help our project with satellite tracking expenses, we would be grateful. Your name will appear on our tracking page as a sponsor and you can choose which turtle you’d like to sponsor. You’ll also get a project t-shirt with donations above $100! SPONSOR LINK!

Update for 2022. We deployed 7 transmitters during May (Sandy Point tracks). In Puerto Rico our partners (see below) deployed another 7 transmitters (Puerto Rico tracks). All satellite turtle tracks together!

Several of the turtles have now begun their northward migration (this map includes Carol and Sunshine, who got their tags in 2021). Follow their progress north!

A few turtles remain in the internesting habitat because they may have more clutches of eggs to lay. See their nest site choices here until they depart!

Molly Be – Our first satellite tagged turtle of the year (adopted for Marsha Smith), Molly Be got her tag on 3 May while she was nesting at Sandy Point. From there, she swam all around the Northern Caribbean, visiting Culebra and the north shore of Puerto Rico, making big loops through open water. She departed for her northward migration on 6 June. Track Molly Be!

Trouble 3 – Trouble 3 was adopted and sponsored by the Karns family and got her tag on 14 May. After nesting, she looped to the south of Sandy Point, then popped by Vieques before heading north toward her foraging areas on 29 May. Trouble 3 was the first satellite tagged turtle to leave the nesting area. Track Trouble 3 here!

Koda – Little Koda has been a champion nester. She was adopted by Tina Kovalik and got her tag on 9 May. She is still looping around, visiting the various nesting areas in the Northern Caribbean, with a visit to Sandy Point again on 9 June. Let’s see where she goes next!

Martha – This turtle was adopted by Sean and Martha Furniss and got her satellite tag on 8 May. She’s still nesting and was at Sandy Point on 16 June! Follow Martha’s progress here.

Olaf – Adopted by Vicki and Steve Nelson, Olaf nested a few times at Sandy Point and got her satellite tag on 10 May. She had a very special little visitor during Turtle Watch one evening 😉 and started her northward migration on 11 June. Keep track of Olaf here!

Keelie – Adopted by Louisa Porter in 2018, Keelie was back this year and got her tag 11 May. We followed her through one nesting cycle before her transmitter stopped working just off Sandy Point. Keelie’s track here.

Winona – Winona’s second time being tracked, she got her tag on 5 May and we followed her for 22 days but unfortunately her transmitter stopped working off Sandy Point on 26 May. She was adopted by Winona State University’s St. Croix field course students. Winona’s track.

Thanks to our 2022 Turtle Sponsors – Liza Hash, Nancy Rose, Sharon Grimes, Carly Ford, Penny Sanford, and the Propeller Club of Baltimore ❤️

2021 Turtles and Sponsors (Carol** and Sunshine** are still transmitting June 2022)

Carol** – Adopted and named by the Benedict Family at Cottages by the Sea. Sponsored by the Canadian Sea Turtle Network (they sent us the tag)!

Sunshine** – Sunshine was found and named by our research team in 2017. She is sponsored by Scott and Marleen Karns, and by Dee Ullrich.

Mona – Adopted and named by Andrea Schultz. Sponsors: Andrea Schultz, Lacey Dowden and Alissa, Jerry and Rose Burmeister.

Spot – Adopted and named by Ellen McCormack-Ament. Sponsors: Sharon Grimes, Dylan and Denise P, Susan V. and friends Jack and Dianne.

Ann – Adopted and named by Jim and Ann Mulder (awesome volunteers!) Sponsors: Jim and Ann Mulder, Dylan and Denise P.

Nellie – Adopted and named by Vicki and Steve Nelson. Sponsors: Vicki and Steve Nelson, Molly Murray.

Tito – Adopted and named by Julie and Tamara Flavin. Sponsors: James Stewart, Susan V. and friends Jack and Dianne.

Cindy – Adopted, named and sponsored by Joe and Cindy Salomone.

We thank you so much for this support! 😍  Tracking leatherbacks is really expensive ($3,000 a year, for each turtle) so every little bit helps our research team.

Why Track Turtles?

In recent years, leatherback nest numbers have been seriously declining at our index beaches (those beaches regularly surveyed) around the Northern Caribbean. We need to see if the turtles that we are expecting back (and not seeing) are choosing other places to nest that are not regularly surveyed. Satellite tags will help us do that.

In 2020, we launched our satellite tagging program to investigate leatherback nest site choices in the Northern Caribbean (Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Vieques etc.). Together with partners at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life , Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas (ATMAR), The Ocean Foundation, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, along with NOAA and the USFWS at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, we hoped to continue to deploy up to 20 satellite transmitters across our beaches on nesting leatherback turtles. Since 2020, we have deployed 11 satellite transmitters on leatherbacks at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge and our partners at Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas (ATMAR) in Maunabo, Puerto Rico have deployed 9.

Major grants for this program came from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation. Sponsors also help with satellite data costs and other costs.

2020 Turtles

In 2020, we tracked three turtles, Barb, Leona Nicole and Winona. Click on their names to see their individual tracking pages through the internesting period.

Barb – A special turtle indeed! She was our champion nester in 2020! Sponsored by Penny Mabie and friends.

Leona Nicole – Leona has two names – She was already named Nicole when she first nested in Maunabo, Puerto Rico in 2016, but she arrived here at Sandy Point and got her name Leona! Sponsored by Jim and Rhoda Stewart.

Winona – We tracked Winona over two nesting loops! Sponsored by Winona State University St. Croix Field Course.

4. nesting_female_dawn
A dawn turtle heads back to the water after nesting at Sandy Point.

The St. Croix Sea Turtle Project is sponsored by The Ocean Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, in cooperation with US Fish and Wildlife Service at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

All photos on this website were taken under appropriate Endangered Species Permits during the course of approved research. No photos may be reproduced, or copied and used without permission. Thank you.