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 tracks here! Click on each turtle’s name to see her path once she’s left Sandy Point. Since it’s still nesting season, each turtle may make several loops, all about 10 days apart.

Since 20 April 2021, we have deployed 8 satellite transmitters on leatherbacks at Sandy Point and our partners at Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas (ATMAR) in Maunabo have deployed 9!

Sponsor a turtle! If you’d like to help our project with satellite tracking expenses, we would be grateful for any donation! Your name will appear on your turtle’s page as a sponsor. SPONSOR HERE!

Current Turtles and Sponsors

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

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

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

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

Mona – Adopted and named by Andrea Schultz. Sponsors: Andrea Schultz, Lacey Dowden.

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.

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)!

We thank you so much for this support! 😍  Tracking leatherbacks is really expensive ($7,000 a year, for each turtle). Sponsorships ($200) help us with these costs!

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 deploy up to 20 satellite transmitters across our beaches on nesting leatherback turtles. In 2020 we did 3 at Sandy Point and in 2021, we have 16 deployed currently.

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.

2020 Results

In 2020, we tracked three turtles, Barb, Leona Nicole and Winona. Here are their travels since early last May.

You can also see the individual turtle nesting loops on their own tracking page! Click on each name to take you to their information.

Barb – A special turtle indeed! She was our champion nester in 2020!

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!

Winona – We tracked Winona over two nesting loops!

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

The St. Croix Leatherback Project is supported by the Sea Turtle Census Initiative, which is sponsored by  The Ocean Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, based in Washington, D.C., but working globally to protect our oceans.

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.