Lucky the Loggerhead Sea Turtle Returns 8 Years Later to Bonaire

Press Release Bonaire July 13, 2012

Eight Years Later, “Extra” the Loggerhead Sea Turtle Returns to Bonaire

Photo of Lucky in 2004 with The Sea Turtle Foundation – Courtesy of National Geographic

July 9th 2004, Klein Bonaire: a female loggerhead sea turtle named Extra was fitted with a satellite transmitter by Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) staff. The very next day Extra began her 1,754 km (1,090 mi) migration to the waters off the coast of Honduras, an area now known to be critical feeding grounds for Bonaire-nesting sea turtles.

July 1st 2012, Klein Bonaire: reported sightings of a large loggerhead sea turtle with a small device secured to its carapace (shell) led the STCB team to investigate. Extra was identified resting and swimming on the coral reef surrounding Klein Bonaire and the remnants of her satellite transmitter were removed from her carapace. The device was completely missing its antennae and was easily removed by the team.

The sighting of Extra is not only a heart warming story for Bonaire, but also very important for our knowledge base of Bonaire’s sea turtles. Extra is nesting once again on Klein Bonaire, which helps confirm the hypothesis that female turtles return to the same nesting beach for their entire adult life (and usually the same beach where they themselves were born). Loggerheads nest with intervals of two to three years, suggesting that this is the third time Extra has returned to nest on Klein Bonaire since the transmitter was fitted.

Satellite transmitters stop working after some time for different reasons; the antennas break, they run out of batteries, or sometimes they fall from the shell, especially as the turtle grows. A turtle’s shell grows from inside out just like fingernails do, but growth in adult sea turtles is very slow and that explains why the transmitters can stay attached to the turtle after so many years.

Extra back in Bonaire waters in 2012

In 2004 Extra had her four flippers intact, however now she is missing half of her right front, possibly from a shark attack. Luckily, she didn’t lose it completely and is still swimming and nesting successfully. So far this season Extra has laid three nests on Klein Bonaire and is expected to lay at least one more before she returns to her feeding home off the coast of Honduras.
Keep count of sea turtle nests on Bonaire’s here

STCB’s satellite tracking of mature sea turtles was featured in the October, 2004 issue of National Geographic (Dutch edition). The photograph chosen for the article was the release of EXTRA after transmitter deployment (see above).

Loggerhead Extra was named after the local newspaper as a way to give publicity to the tracking of sea turtles to raise public awareness about these majestic reptiles.

STCB staff would like to thank Woodwind Sail and Snorkeling for reporting on the sighting of this turtle and for participating in the quest to recover the transmitter. We are grateful to our volunteers: Dee, Tina and Richard who are always ready to help us protect Bonaire’s sea turtles. And last but not least we thank Extra for carrying this device and providing valuable information that can be used to share with our international partners to enhance sea turtle conservation in the Caribbean.

Warmest Regards,

Mabel Nava
Manager
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
http://www.bonaireturtles.org

Join STCB on our Facebook page.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) is a non-governmental research and conservation organization that has been protecting sea turtles since 1991. Our mission is to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire’s sea turtle populations throughout their range.

Funding for STCB comes from conservation and research grants, merchandise sales and donations.

You can email us at stcb@bonaireturtles.org

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