The science department at Brazil’s University of Exeter is astounded to find that a turtle they had tagged and released on Brazilian shores has now remarkably swum thousands of miles, reaching the outskirts of U.K. overseas territory.
As reported by phys.org, Fubica, the female leatherback turtle, is currently venturing through the seas off Tristan Da Cunha, a group of South Atlantic volcanic islands.
Fubica, one of four turtles tagged on the shores of Brazil during the breeding season in November 2017, is significant because she is the only turtle of the group whose tag is still transmitting her location more than six months later.
In a quote to reporters, University of Exeter Ph.D. student Liliana Poggio Colman stated that “Fubica has swum thousands of miles and has now found her way to the protected zone around Tristan Da Cunha.”
She added that “These turtles only nest every two or three years, so we don’t expect her to return to land for many months to come. Some stay in the coastal waters of South America and others, like Fubica, cross entire oceans.”
The student, when questioned on the turtles intended activities in such foreign waters, said that “She will be spending her time foraging for jellyfish, which makes up most of these turtles’ diet.”
Colman, who was responsible for the turtle experiment along with University Professor Brendan Godley, said, “Fubica was seen nesting four times late last year.”
The turtle did quite a bit of traveling by her homeland before foraging out into unknown waters.
“During this period she moved along the entire coast of the state of Espírito Santo, eastern Brazil, showing how important those areas are for leatherbacks. After leaving the beaches she spent a lot of time foraging off the Brazilian coast, where there is high marine productivity and intense fishing – meaning threats from nets and hooks.”
“She then began to move eastwards, and is currently near Tristan Da Cunha (inside the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone around the islands).”
The remarkable length this turtle has navigated on its own goes to further solidify how interconnected our global seas are, given the fact that World Oceans Day just occurred on June 8.
The tagging was done for a study being conducted by Exeter and a Brazilian non-profit organization named TAMAR-ICMBio, with funding from Funbio (the Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity).