New device helps track turtles
TAKING four men to help her on her journey, Rush the loggerhead turtle was released on Mon Repos beach yesterday afternoon with a new accessory to help scientists learn more about the endangered species.
Rush was caught on Sunday night as she laid her third clutch of eggs, allowing rangers to place a satellite tracking tag on her back that will tell them of her travels.
Department of Environment and Resource Management chief scientist Col Limpus began placing the device on the turtle about 9am yesterday to be ready for her release.
“We have chosen turtles which live in a research area and this one lives in Moreton Bay area,” he said.
A turtle that lived in a research area was chosen to increase the likelihood of the tracking device being retrieved once the battery ran out.
Dr Limpus said it was hoped the device’s battery would last at least six months, sending back data on the turtle’s movements outside laying season.
“The tag carries a GPS and every time she returns to the surface we get a good location,” he said.
The satellite tracking device attacked to Rush is one of the latest models and provides more accurate information than previous versions.
Dr Limpus said it was not the last time the rangers would see Rush this year.
The turtle is expected to lay at least two more clutches.
“In about another 24 hours there will be a hormone surge and it will take the better part of two weeks for the eggs to be released,” Cr Limpus said.
Rush was named after Rush Surf, which provided the funds for the $7000 tracking device.
Rush Surf state manager Nadine Druce said the funds were raised from the sale of enviro bags during the Christmas period last year.
“We’re very excited to sponsor a turtle and help the rangers find out as much as they can about the animals,” she said.
In coming weeks, researchers hope to produce a map of Rush’s movements, which will be published in the NewsMail.