Researchers use satellites to track green sea turtle habits


KAOHSIUNG–Two green sea turtles were released Saturday after being fixed with satellite transmitters that will let a team of researchers and marine workers keep tabs on their movement as they head out to sea, said the Liuqiu Township Office in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County.

The team, which hails from National Taiwan Ocean University, is using transmitters provided by Hong Kong’s Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the U.S.-based Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center under the National Marine Fisheries Service.

George H. Balazs, marine turtle research team leader at the U.S. center, has visited the township twice a year since 2010 after being impressed by the conservation work going in Taiwan. Balazs and Connie Ng from the Hong Kong agency each donated the G.P.S. trackers used to follow the turtles’ journey.

The coral reef around Liuqiu Township, a small island off of Taiwan’s southwestern coast, has helped create a unique environment for the creatures. At least 100 sea turtles have made a home for themselves within 10 meters of the coastline, while even more turtles come use the area as a hatching ground, the research team said.

Over the past several years, more than 1,500 eggs have been found in the area, giving birth to some 900 newborn turtles which then swam out to open sea, the team said.