Sea Turtle Tagging
VIMS researchers tag sea turtles to monitor population trends, track movements and behavior, and identify habitats. Tag types used include flipper tags, pit tags, radio tags, and satellite tags.
VIMS has tracked more than 60 sea turtles with satellite tags. Data from these studies show long-term movements of sea turtles.
- Seasonal migrations are linked to temperature.
- Many sea turtles tagged in Virginia spend the winter in an area south of Cape Hatteras on the western edge of the Gulf Stream.
- Some loggerhead juveniles exhibit oceanic (vs. coastal) habitat selection.
- VIMS sea turtle tracks on Seaturtle.org
Radio tags allow scientists to track the short-term movements and diving behavior of sea turtles.
- Loggerhead and Kemp's ridley sea turtles exhibit seasonal differences in surfacing behavior.
- Surfacing behavior is an important factor in estimating turtle populations using aerial survey data.
Most sea turtles released by the VIMS Sea Turtle Program are tagged with a flipper tag. This tag number is entered into a national database operated by the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. Kemp's ridley sea turtles are tagged with a PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag in one flipper.
Data from these tags reveal population trends and long-term movements.
Mansfield, K.L. 2006. Sources of mortality, movements and behavior of sea turtles in Virginia. Ph.D. Dissertation. College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA. 343 pp.