This story was originally posted in Turtle Happenings on January 30, 1999.
Last September, on East Island at the French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiian Archipelago, George Balazs attached an Argos satellite transmitter to a nesting green turtle. They also inserted two PIT tags. Finally, as an external identification, they etched the number of the Argos transmitter on her carapace: 4800.
Last September, on East Island at the French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiian Archipelago, George Balazs attached an Argos satellite transmitter to a nesting green turtle.
Photo courtesy G. Balazs
Two months later, a friend of ours named Randy Miller was diving at a favourite site near Lahaina, Maui. Randy is an avid underwater photographer, and his subject that day was a turtle with an interesting lump on her back and the number 4800 etched into her shell. Turtle 4800 had made it home!
Turtle 4800 had made it home!
Photo courtesy R. Miller
The report from Randy excited everyone. Although George had been receiving position reports from 4800 since she left her nesting site, the resolution of the satellite data is not fine enough to be as precise as Randy's sighting. Because Hawaiian green turtles exhibit high site fidelity, it is likely that Randy's dive site is within 4800's foraging grounds. Sure enough, Randy has seen her on several subsequent occasions.
Thanks to modern satellite technology and the alertness of Randy Miller, we now know exactly where the return migration of Turtle 4800 began and ended. We have been given a brief glimpse into the fascinating and largely hidden lives of sea turtles.