Transmitters placed on Endangered Hawksbill sea turtle “Althea”
By Connie Versteeg
Researcher Larry Wood of the Palm Beach Zoo, joined by Kay Tennant, Terri Roberts, and intern Susan Nuttal, set out to place two transmitters on two endangered Hawksbill sea turtles, off the East Coast of Florida, in order to enhance the understanding of these incredible marine reptiles.

With funding from the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation and Dr. Terry Maple of the Palm Beach Zoo, Mr. Wood purchased two transmitters. One was placed on an 80 pound Hawksbill turtle caught on Breakers Reef off the coast of West Palm Beach, Fl. This turtle, who has been named Althea, has been caught twice previously by Mr. Wood, which suggests that this turtle is a resident of this area. The back of the turtle was cleared of barnacles and washed well before an epoxy was applied to hold a stainless steel tray manufactured by Steve Reichard. The tray holds the transmitter and allows the transmitter to be retrieved fairly easily. The tray will eventually fall off as the turtle grows. The transmitter will allow Mr. Wood to track this turtle’s movement over the year by sending daily satellite data on the direction, depth and location of Althea. The long-term goal is to describe foraging patterns and to understand how these sea turtles interact with their environment and utilize the habitat. Althea was then released in the same location as she was caught and updates of Althea’s locations can be found at
Florida Hawksbills Web site

Unfortunately, due to extremely poor visibility, the second transmitter was unable to be deployed and the team will attempt to affix it to a turtle again soon.

The trip to the reef was made possible by Jim Abernathy’s Scuba Adventures and was filmed by cameraman Steve Shelb from CBS Channel 12 out of West Palm Beach.
Also along on the trip were Connie Versteeg and Helena Schaff of the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation. When asked why the Foundation chose to donate to this cause, the director, Frank Wojcik commented “The $11,000 donation to the Palm Beach Zoo from the National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation was used to support the research program directed by Larry Wood to provide the scientific community statistics on the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles and to allow tracking movements with global positioning satellites.

This valuable information can be shared by all partners that have an interest in the daily travels of Althea, her range, and location. We are proud to participate in our education, protection and public awareness programs.”
Attachment of a transmitter to an endangered Hawksbill sea turtle, to track her movements using global positional satellites (GPS).
Attachment of transmitter.
Researchers post with Althea, an endangered Hawksbill sea turtle, after attaching a transmitter and before her release to track her movements.
Researcher Larry Wood and Intern Susie Nuttal pose with Althea prior to release.
Althea, an endangered sea turtle gets numbers painted on her for easy identification from a distance.
Painting a number on the shell allows easy identification from a distance.

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