Satellites to track turtles IMMS will release this weekend

We all know turtles aren’t the fastest creatures, but do you ever wonder where they are headed?

At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, a one-of-a-kind experiment is in the works for the shelly reptiles we call turtles.

The majority of the turtles currently at the facility were stranded in Massachusetts because of cold event last year.

“They are ectothermic, which means that they take on the temperature around them and if it’s too cold, their bodies will start to shut down so they will slowly start to wash in,” said Kelsi Busboom, a training tech at IMMS.

“We’ll give them medicine if they need it and then once we have our monthly checks, then we will make sure they are OK. And once they are OK, we will tag them and release them.”

But before this group of 11 are released Saturday in Pass Christian, four were selected to have a satellite attached to their shells.

IMMS Director Moby Solangi said it’s the first time they are tagging the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.

“So we are doing something very unique for the first time in the history … to put satellite tags on some of these animals to see where they go,” he said.

But why put satellite transmitters on these turtles that may never come back? The answer is in giving researchers a glimpse into the lives of these endangered creatures.

“These are some of the most endangered sea turtles in the world,” he said. “If you want restoration of the species in a certain geographic area, you want to make sure animals released in one area can travel and go back home.”

And who will they know if the turtles are able to travel? That’s where the satellites come into play.

“There are these specialized satellite computer systems that whenever the animal comes up to breathe, it sends out a signal and that signal is then tracked in real time,” Solangi said.

Anyone can track the turtles by going to the IMMS website at

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