Sea Turtle, Inc.'s facility serves as a rehabilitation center for sick and injured sea turtles. Each year we rescue and rehabilitate 40-100+ sea turtles with the goal of returning these turtles to the wild.
Tag and Release
Sea Turtle, Inc. participates in the Cooperative Marine Turtle Tagging Program (CMTTP) which is a centralized program to manage tagging data and facilitate exchange of tag information. Each rehabilitated sea turtle that returns to the wild (that meets the size requirements) is outfitted with two types of tags; a Passive Intergrated Transponder (PIT) tag and a metal Inconel (flipper) tag. Each tag has a unique serial number which allows the turtle to be easily identified in case of future stranding, nesting, or re-capture. This data can be used by researchers to study possible migration routes and growth rates of the turtle. Additionally, in nesting females, the tags allow us to record which beaches an individual momma uses to nest and how often they come up to lay eggs.
Flipper tags are metal tags that are attached to the outside of a turtles flipper by a special tool. The tags can be applied to different flippers, depending on what beach the turtle comes from. Sea Turtle, Inc. tags rehabilitated turtles on the left front and left back flipper. The serial number on the tag is clearly visible to the naked eye.
PIT tags are small microchips (about the size of a grain of rice) that must be inserted with a special applicator. They are a subcutaneous chip, which means it sits under the skin of the turtle. To check for this tag, you need a special PIT tag scanner. This scanner can pick up the presence of a tag and allow us to read the unique serial number on the tag. It is placed in the same flipper as the metal tag.
PIT and flipper tags are useful in identifying individual sea turtles, however, they are not satellite tags and do not track the turtles. Satellite tags are applied to sea turtles to track specific migration paths and determine habitats, feeding grounds, and nesting beaches for sea turtles. Sea Turtle, Inc. has had a few turtles from our facility satellite tagged. For their migratory paths (and other sea turtle tag information) click HERE!
Types of Releases
Public Boat Releases
Juvenile green sea turtles inhabit the shallow waters of the Laguna Madre Bay area. We release green turtles into South Bay. This area has plenty of sea grass beds which is their favorite food. These releases are done in partnership with American Diving, a dive and dolphin watch company on South Padre Island. These releases are open to the public. Cruises are usually 1.5-2 hours and consist of the turtle release and a dolphin watch. Check our NEWS page to see if there is a release coming soon!
Hawksbills, adult greens, juvenile Kemp's ridleys and loggerheads are released offshore. They are taken to an area with suitable habitat, depending on the species. Sometimes we take them to an area where there is a known strong current or a good patch of sargassum. These releases are done in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and are not open to the public.
Adult loggerhead and Kemp's ridley sea turtles are allowed to walk down the beach on South Padre Island. These releases are typically held in Isla Blanca County Park.