TURTLE NAMED AFTER ASTRONAUT
TRAVELS TO SPACE COAST!
In early September 2021 we encountered a juvenile green turtle with a strange tag series in our study area along the Space Coast of Florida while scuba diving the artificial reef. Turns out, the turtle cold stunned in January of 2020 and was transported to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rehabilitation & Rescue Center in North Carolina! And named after Astronaut James Irwin.
In June 2021, Turtlenaut James Irwin was cleared for launch and released in North Carolina, traveling thousands of miles south to the Space Coast of Florida where ECB recaptured the turtle who still appeared happy and healthy.
How stellar is that!
In Brevard County, an isolated shallow nearshore reef resides from the shoreline out to approximately 150m along a 14.5-kilometer stretch of beach. East Coast Biologists, Inc. began a study of the marine turtle population using the nearshore hardbottom reefs in this area in 2003. Researchers observed juvenile green turtles and, occasionally, a loggerhead sea turtle over the nearshore reefs.
Preliminary genetic research conducted by University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources indicates that the natal origin of the juvenile green turtle population sampled from this area were hatched from as far away as beaches in Costa Rica. To better understand the importance of this habitat, researchers placed acoustic transmitters on 15 juvenile green turtles to learn whether turtles are “residents” or “transients” just passing through. Results of acoustic tracking and recapture data indicated juvenile green turtles use this nearshore habitat anywhere from 30 days to a year or longer.