Marine turtles spend about 90% of their lifespan under the ocean and between their different developmental stages, eating sites and nesting they travel great distances. It is hard for humans to keep an eye on each of them while they’re under the sea, which results in a loss of valuable information about these sea turtles.
It is possible to put satellite trackers on sea turtles to track their whereabouts and conditions. Flipper trackers, PIT trackers and GPS trackers are also widely used for the same purposes.
This article will help you to understand how these trackers work, their usage and the cost, along with which tracker to get for your turtle. If you’re interested to know how scientists keep tabs on sea turtles in the oceanic abyss or which tracker will be the best for your pet turtles, then keep on reading, because this article is going to answer all your queries!
Various types of Trackers
Tracking is crucial for learning and understanding the habitats, migrating patterns, reproduction and behavior in order to protect the turtles. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. There are several types of trackers with unique features to observe marine and land turtles. Such as
- Satellite Tracker
- PIT Trackers
- Flipper Trackers and
- GPS Trackers
The benefits and drawbacks along with the approximate expense of these trackers are discussed below:
1. Satellite tracker
As a sea turtle spends most of its time in the water as it feeds, mates, and migrates the vast majority of marine turtle study has been done on beaches where the turtles lay their eggs.
Specifically, we need to understand more about sea turtles’ migratory patterns, sea behavior, marine habitat locations, turtle utilization of these locations, and the migration routes across habitats if we want to safeguard sea turtles in all of their habitats.
When satellite telemetry is used to protect sea turtles, it can be very necessary and beneficial. Following an object on Earth with satellites has progressed so far that it can be used to track sea turtles in the open ocean.
A Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) is attached on the backs of the turtles. It sends a signal to an orbiting satellite every time the turtle comes up for air.
The PTT transmits a great deal of information towards the satellite. The satellite transfers the information back to The ground, to the researcher’s computers.
Benefits of Satellite trackers
- Satellite transmitters are mostly used to track where animals travel.
- Knowing the migrations of sea turtles allows us to focus our conservation efforts on the places where they can have the most impact.
- This information may aid in the creation of global partnerships and treaties, as well as defining the boundaries of Marine Protected Areas.
- Sea turtle migratory patterns may potentially be utilized to target conservation programs. Satellite monitoring research on loggerhead turtles north of Hawaii, for example, revealed that they prefer cooler than 18.5° C seas.
With this information, it can be suggested where to fish in order to avoid confrontations with sea turtles on a daily basis.
Drawbacks of satellite trackers
- Every technology carried by an animal has an inherent impact on the animal.
- the potential detrimental consequences of the devices on the creature being examined are not addressed enough.
- Not many researchers have tried to quantify such harmful impacts, particularly in the case of sea turtles.
- leatherback turtles with large satellite trackers take longer to travel and may even find different migration paths than those with no satellites.
- If a satellite tracker modifies the activity of its host, the data collected will not accurately represent the motions of a non-tagged turtle.
- If turtles are watched by satellite, tiny changes in their biology may alter their reproduction or life expectancy.
- A turtle’s capacity to collect food or migrate might be reduced if its swimming pace is slowed.
2. PIT Trackers
Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) trackers are administered intramuscularly or intradermally into sea turtles. It is made up of harmless wire, a microchip, and a glass capacitor, which is about the length of a grain of rice.
Each PIT tracker consists of a unique code. The tracker is activated by passing a scanner over the injection site, the scanner’s radio frequency then reflects back any radio waves emitted by the PIT trackers. Using this method, a scanner may read the PIT tracker’s unique alphanumeric code.
PIT trackers may be implanted in turtles at a variety of locations, some of which are: Shoulder muscles on the left or right, mid-flipper muscles on the left or right, rear-flipper muscles on the left or right, underneath the plastron and muscles of the neck.
Benefits of PIT trackers
- Because PIT trackers are almost impossible to remove, they are ideal for marking turtles.
- Safe from any outer parameters.
- Can be used for as long as the turtle lives.
- Small in size, making it easy to install.
- Has variations suitable for different types of turtles. Such as TROVAN is suitable for large turtles.
- Has a digital database of information about numerous turtles stored
Drawbacks of PIT Tracker
- Quite expensive and require multiple scanners for different types of PIT trackers.
- Scanners may not be able to detect all trackers.
Both Trovan and Avid/Destron-Fearing PIT trackers function at 128 kHz, although other PIT trackers can operate at 125 kHz as well. For which different scanners are required for tracking.
- Manually scanned and tracked, hence, it is not time effective.
- Someone spotting the host turtle will require a scanner to scan the tracker to update the turtles whereabouts and conditions.
- The scanners are usually not waterproof making it impossible to track underwater.
3. Flipper tracker
For sea turtles, flippers trackers are the most affordable and frequently used trackers. On the flipper, they are connected by penetrating the turtle’s skin.
The trackers can either be metal or plastics. On one side, the trackers carry a unique number, and on the other, the return address if someone locates the turtle away from its habitat.
Sea turtles with four flippers, such as hard shelled turtles, offer more options for installation of the trackers. They are typically positioned at a distance from the front flippers’ trailing edges.
The trackers are encouraged to position closer to the armpit or axilla in order to reduce the risk of losing it. The optimal site for tagging will depend on the species, the locality, and the person inserting the tracker.
Flipper trackers are inserted into the skin between the back flippers and the tail leaving a little amount of space to make room for the turtle’s future development in leatherback turtles.
Benefits of Flipper trackers
- Flipper trackers can be detected easily as they’re highly visible.
- They are easy to attach.
- Cost effective. Cheapest among other trackers.
- Can be made with different materials such as plastic, Inconel, titanium, etc. and each with specific benefits. Such as,
- A turtle may be studied without being physically captured since plastic flippers are readily visible.
- Inconel is a corrosion- and corrosion-resistant alloy with a long service life. Inconel metal flipper trackers can be used for over a decade.
- Titanium flipper trackers are long-lasting and corrosion-resistant as well.
Drawbacks of Flipper trackers
- They are temporary. Lasts about a decade or so.
- makes turtles more vulnerable to get caught in fishing nets.
- Can be uncomfortable or unsettling for turtles.
- Can cause infection, therefore, must maintain caution and a properly skilled person is required.
- The surrounding skin has to be properly cleaned and taken care of after insertion of the tracker.
- Can get lost comparatively easily, hence, two trackers need to be installed.
- Manually tracked and documented, thus makes it a time consuming process for updates.
4. GPS Trackers
The stress when a pet is lost, even for a brief time, is enough to drive any dedicated pet owners to take extreme measures. Smart tags are often seen on cats and dogs but can we use that to protect our pet turtles?
It’s a general misunderstanding that turtles can’t wear trackers because of their unusual form. However, this isn’t accurate. They can wear GPS trackers like cats and dogs.
GPS trackers are mostly suitable to track pet tortoises as GPS signals cannot work underneath the water surface. GPS trackers for tortoises are available in a variety of brands and features. Some of them are:
- The Jiobit
- The cube GPS tracker
- Found GPS tracker
a. The Jiobit
The Jiobit is a versatile tracker. Tracking people, pets, and objects can be done via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, or a cellular network over virtually any distance. To connect it to your tortoise’s shell, you may use the clip supplied or attach it to a collar.
- Doesn’t bother the tortoise as it is small, lightweight, and waterproof.
- It also enables you to establish region allowed for your tortoise to roam around and warns you if it ventures beyond its assigned region, allowing you to rest and know that it’s safe and sound when you don’t have eyes on her
- helps you to locate her quickly if wanders off.
- available for both Android and iOS devices.
b. The Cube GPS Tracker
You may also use the Cube GPS Tracker to monitor your tortoise precisely at its location since it has a built-in SIM card that connects to Verizon’s network. Because of its high level of precision, as well as the peace of mind that comes with being able to follow your beloved pet, this gadget requires a monthly membership charge.
The Cube comes with a variety of fittings, including clips for attaching your tortoise’s harness. Cube is an excellent option for protecting your tortoise companions because of the following advantages.
- Real-time, countrywide monitoring is possible
- SOS notifications and an SOS button comes with the Cube GPS Tracker
- Includes programmable geofencing and
- Rechargeable battery lasting from 10-60 days, depending on the set up.
- Auto sleeping mode when there is no movement, allowing to get more use out of the battery.
- Cube’s app can be used on the phone as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
c. Found GPS tracker
Pebblebee has developed a compact, lightweight tracker that is both long-lasting and sturdy that can be used for your tortoise.
- It has an exceptional battery life i.e. 30-days
- It is long-lasting and simple to charge.
- Can set up virtual fences and has a personalized tracking and remote vibration.
- All Android and iOS smartphones may be used to hunt for a missing tortoise or other pet using this app.
PetFon Pet GPS Tracker, Tracktive Waterproof GPS tracker, and Paw Fit 2 are also pet GPS trackers that can serve as a great option for tracking your tortoise.
Track A Real Sea Turtle With Each Bracelet!
Our Recommendation – The Journey Bracelet
Wildlife Collections, also known as Fahlo, came up with the concept for their famous animal monitoring wristbands in order to encourage more people to participate in conservation programs.
The bracelets are called the journey bracelets as it comes with the backstory of the turtle, its name and a picture on a card. The card also includes a QR code that enables clients to see a tracking map of their sea turtles whereabouts on their phone or computer!
A portion of the bracelet’s net proceeds (about 10%) is given to the charity affiliated with the turtle or the animal shown on the bracelet.
Therefore, the journey bracelet is quite a thoughtful and beautiful way to track sea turtles that one can consider getting as it is also budget friendly.
Fortunately, you can get these brilliant trackers even at a discount!
Cost To Track Turtles
The typical cost of satellite time per transmitter is $3,000, with transmitters and extra parts costing around $2,000 apiece. Overall, it can cost up to $6000.
To assist track sea turtles across the globe, you may also become a sponsor, which provides a terrific chance to advertise your company. Sponsorships are available for a one-time fee of $5,000.
The PIT trackers are about US$5.00 to $10.00 per PIT trackers. On the other hand, Flipper trackers are relatively cheaper. It has a range from $0.25 to $3.00 depending on its material.
However, GPS trackers for tortoise can cost from $10 up to $200 depending on the brand, quality and other features.
If you’re interested in following adult turtles after they’ve left the breeding grounds, satellite tracking is the way to go. Given the existing capabilities of satellite tracking, this may not be the ideal method for defining small, short-range motions.
But satellite trackers can give us the exact location of the turtle within the satellite’s reach where humans cannot access. The high cost is a serious factor to consider while choosing this method.
Both Flipper and PIT trackers are excellent, cost-effective, and simple alternatives. However, there are also certain limitations to this kind of transportation. While both need manual reporting and documentation. But it has given reliable updates for a long period of time and definitely is a good initiative for tracking turtles.
GPS trackers, on the other hand, are a realistic choice for monitoring tortoises. While location data obtained may not always be correct, we should be prepared to accept this. The data must be interpreted with caution, as usual. We can be hopeful that more satellites will be available in the future, allowing for broader coverage throughout the world.
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