Since our last update, Pamela has done some exploring north of her favorite area around Islandia, but she is back home now. She still has her transmitter and we are receiving good data.
Pamela has kept her transmitter for over four months.It might not seem like it a long time, but compared to my other green turtles, it is definitely a record. Only three transmitters which deployed in previous years have stayed on longer. Of the three, two transmitters were lost in November and one in January. For Pamela’s transmitter, I employed a different attachment method where I used epoxy to form a protective dome around the sides of the transmitter. This effectively removes any edges that might get caught on a reef. The other transmitter deployed this summer using the standard method has already been detached, so Pamela is already a success story. I am pleased that she has kept this one so long, but as always, I am hoping for longer.
There is actually a reason why green turtles lose their transmitters far sooner than other species. Their scutes (sections of shell) are made of a smooth keratin material, which when viewed under an electron microscope, is very smooth. Loggerhead scutes, for example, look like a mass of spaghetti under a microscope, so epoxy adheres very well, enabling transmitters to stay in place. The smoother green turtle scutes, on the other hand, do not provide a good surface for epoxy.
My colleagues and I have worked with both loggerheads and greens. Some of my colleagues have had transmitters stay attached longer. I have experimented with using their methods and epoxies, but have not witnessed significant improvements in longevity. It is possible that resilience also has to do with the turtle’s behavior and where it lives
So for now, please cross your fingers that Pamela continues to enjoy her location around Islandia and will continue to send us data.Stay tuned and send Pamela good vibes!