June 12, 2012
This spring the Aquarium of the Pacific rehabilitated and released an endangered green sea turtle that is now equipped with a tracking device. As an institution approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service to rehabilitate these animals, the Aquarium was selected to care for the sea turtle, which was found in the Shoreline Village marina in April. Read the previous story on this project here.
When the sea turtle was deemed healthy enough for release back into the wild, our veterinarian attached a temporary GPS device to track the turtle’s movements. We have since recorded its journey from Long Beach to Santa Barbara. The turtle is currently moving offshore in waters off the coast of Santa Barbara.
“The sea turtle has traveled as much as fifty miles and as little as ten miles a day,” said Dr. Lance Adams, veterinarian at the Aquarium of the Pacific. So far, the sea turtle has traveled approximately 500 miles in about four weeks and is currently about 300 miles offshore from Santa Barbara.
The green sea turtle’s diet can vary. When they are farther out to sea, they are likely to eat sea jellies. Closer to shore, they feed on sea grasses and algae. A unique characteristic of green sea turtles is that as they become adults they become herbivores, meaning they only eat plants.
This turtle was the third to be rehabilitated by the Aquarium. All seven sea turtle species are listed in the Endangered Species Act. Sea turtles suffer from habitat loss due to coastal development in their native habitats and overcrowded beaches. Even when they find an undisturbed beach to lay eggs, the eggs are at risk of poaching. Sea turtles are also poached for their shells and skin.