The Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter will celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee with a public turtle release on Saturday, 2 June and a resident rate special on the Jubilee public holiday on Monday, 4 June.
The turtle release planned to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee is the first of its kind. To be released is an adult turtle, one of the oldest at the Cayman Turtle Farm and estimated to be 60 years of age. Part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s breeding stock for more than 30 years, this turtle is a male weighing more than 600 pounds. Dubbed Sir Thomas Turtleton in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee, he is the first turtle of this age and size to be released into the wild by the Cayman Turtle Farm.
In another new and special development, Sir Thomas Turtleton will be part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry” – the Cayman Turtle Farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.
As part of the tag and track programme, green sea turtles fitted with satellite transmitters are released into the ocean and monitored online. When the animal surfaces during a transmission period, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.
Chief Research Officer Dr. Walter Mustin said: “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.”
As Sir Thomas Turtleton travels following his release, the team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will be able to use the data as signs that he has survived the re-introduction to the wild. Meantime, scientists, both at the farm in Grand Cayman and also around the world, may view and assess the turtle’s migration path.
Sir Thomas Turtleton will be released at 3pm on Saturday into the North Sound at the former SafeHaven site – to the north of the canal entrance across from the North Sound Golf Club. The public is welcome.
It is hoped that data from Sir Thomas Turtleton’s track may be compared with the track of younger released turtles and determine the behaviour of older turtles versus the younger turtles usually released by the Cayman Turtle Farm at between two and three years of age.
“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,” said Tina Trumbach, chief marketing officer. “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.”
To further celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, the Cayman Turtle Farm will welcome Cayman residents on Monday with a resident rate special of half-off regular resident rates. On Monday, residents may gain admission for $5 for adults and $2 for children 4 to 12 years old. Children younger than 4 will be admitted free of charge.
The Cayman Turtle Farm will be open from 8am to 4.30pm on Monday.
For more information on the Cayman Turtle Farm’s celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, call 949-3894.