The Cayman Islands released a 60-year old turtle into North Sound on Saturday, June 2, 2012 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The release of the turtle to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee is the first of its kind.
Sir Thomas Turtleton is one of the oldest turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm and is estimated to be 60-years old. He weighs in at over 600 pounds and has been part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s breeding stock for over 30 years.
The Cayman turtle was released at 3pm on Saturday into the North Sound at the former SafeHaven site, the largest protected bay on Grand Cayman Island, reported the Associated Press.
Sir Thomas Turtleton will be part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s “Tag and Track” release program, which was started earlier this year with the release of ‘Jerry’ the Cayman Turtle Farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.
Scientists around the world and at the farm in Grand Cayman will be able to view and assess the turtle’s migration path. Sir Thomas Turtleton’s tracking is to help determine the behavior of older turtles versus the younger turtles.
Chief Research Officer Walter Mustin said to the CayCompass, “Sir Thomas spent several decades in the wild honing his survival and foraging skills before becoming a breeder at the Cayman Turtle Farm; we have every expectation that those skills remain intact. Two decades of CTF tagging studies have demonstrated that even farm raised yearlings, raised on artificial feed and then released to the wild, successfully transition to wild diets, grow, migrate, mature, return to nest, and survive.”
Chief marketing officer Tina Trumbach said, “We felt this turtle release would be a fitting celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee by the Cayman Turtle Farm as it celebrates both history and progress. Sir Thomas Turtleton has made a tremendous contribution to the breeding and conservation efforts at the Cayman Turtle Farm over the years, and we felt it was an opportune time to celebrate his history and release him back to his original habitat. By making his release a part of our tag and track release programme, we can also contribute to progress in research on mature turtles released into the wild.”