Restraining 300 Pound Turtles Can Present Problems

Summer 2017
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Sally Murphy, state coordinator for marine turtles, headed up a team of S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources agents that attached satellite transmitters to five female loggerhead turtles several years ago.  As you can imagine, this is not easily done with a three hundred-pound turtle that had spent most of the night on an alien shore laying eggs and now was intent on returning to the water.   

Sally first conferred with the leader of another team in Georgia that had been restraining turtles in order to attach metal tags to flippers.  That leader said it was all very simple; just have one team member stand in front of the oncoming turtle and straddle its head so that it could not proceed.   Then the others would have time to attach the transmitter.   

Sally knows her turtles, so she decided to be a bit more cautious.  She and her team built a wooden barrier to restrain the animal during installation.

This worked quite well until one of the turtles took exception to the delay and bit right through a wooden 2” x 4” that closed off the front of the pen.    

Sally told me that she was glad that she had taken the precaution of a wooden barrier rather than legs of flesh and bone.  I’m sure the other team members were glad too.  Oh!  I forgot to ask Sally if she had passed that bit of information back to the leader of the Georgia team.

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