A couple of weeks ago we deployed 3 Platform Terminal Transmitters (PTTs) onto 3 hawksbill sea turtle females after they nested (we discussed planning for this in a previous post). The process could not have been fun for the 3 turtles, but we tried to minimize our impacts while setting us up to get some invaluable information.
First, we did standard measurements and checked or put in flipper tags as the turtle laid her eggs. Then, after she covered the nest chamber and started her return to the water, we set up a wooden “box,” or really a tall frame, where she would crawl into it and be detained. We worked quickly to remove any barnacles, sand down and clean an area the size of the PTT and its planned epoxy footprint, and started mixing the first layer of epoxy. Using popsicle sticks, we spread several layers of epoxy to attach the PTT securely to the carapace.
We managed to cover turtles of varying ages. We put PTTs on a neophyte (or first time nester), an older turtle first tagged in 1998, and a turtle first tagged in 2007. It will be interesting to see how their movements compare during the nesting season and in post-nesting migrations. The turtle from 2007 (WH5688) should be starting her migration soon, so stay posted for more.