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  Today Online 1 Aug 06
Heroes in a half shell
Underwater World turtles released into ocean so scientists can gather data

Sheralyn Tay sheralyn@newstoday.com.sg

Straits Times 1 Aug 06
Twelve marine turtles from Sentosa's Underwater World will be released

Channel NewsAsia 31 Jul 06
11 endangered sea turtles to be released, tracked
By Wong Mun Wai, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : A batch of captive turtles on the endangered species list is being shipped from Singapore to the South China Sea where they will be released.

Nanyang Technological University's scientists have fitted the turtles with satellite tracking devices to study how they will survive in the wild. 2006 is the Year of the Turtle - not according to the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, but according to the United Nations Environment Programme, which is devoting the year to celebrating the marine turtle and its conservation.

And as part of that, 11 turtles will be released back into the wild to study how they live. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said, "Today's event is significant. It is not just our contribution to the research effort but also we are launching a modest education effort to try to educate the children."

And the message being sent is turtles are an endangered species, with Leatherhead, Green and Olive Ridley turtles making up the batch being released.

Dr C H Diong, Associate Professor of Zoology, Nanyang Technological University, said, "The purpose of the project is to release (these) captive turtles in the open sea in international waters to understand and study their open sea migratory behaviour...and their dive behaviour to see if they're able to move and travel on their own, and able to use their navigational cues to travel and migrate, and find new feeding grounds, perhaps even to find new members of their own kind to mate and reproduce."

To study the turtles, they are fitted with global satellite tracking devices. The batteries on them are expected to last at least a year so scientists can study the data. The turtles are being transported from Singapore in a cargo ship heading to Hong Kong.

On the journey they will be released in open waters in the South China Sea. The aim is to ensure they will be put into safe waters - away from shipping - and more importantly, where species of their own kind live.

The scientists plan to release the turtles around 10am on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a Sea Turtle Conservation Gallery has opened at Sentosa's Underwater World. The gallery has the support of several Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian countries in promoting turtle conservation and education. - CNA/ms

Today Online 1 Aug 06
Heroes in a half shell
Underwater World turtles released into ocean so scientists can gather data

Sheralyn Tay sheralyn@newstoday.com.sg

AS YOU read this, 12 sea turtles are getting their first taste of freedom--but they probably don't know that their every move is being tracked.

The turtles, which have spent their lives in the safe confines of Sentosa's Underwater World, have just been released into the South China Sea.

And when these former "captives" get their first taste of the great outdoors, the attachments on their shells will keep tabs on them. These are transmitters that will continuously give scientists information on what the turtles are up to.

"We are trying to see if they can use their navigational cues," said principal investigator C H Diong from Nanyang Technological University's National Institute of Education. "This is particularly important because these are captive turtles, which have been at the Underwater World for six to 15 years."

The scientists want to see which instincts kick in when these turtles are in the open sea. Will they, for example, be able to rejoin their native populations by taking their cues from ocean currents, water temperatures and the earth's magnetic field? Will they be able to dive, fend for themselves and find feeding grounds?

The satellite tracking will last 12 to 18 months and could unlock some mysteries of these endangered creatures.

What little data is available on wild turtles is mostly about female turtles that make their way to the beaches to hatch their eggs. The males do not take part in this ritual.

Now, with three males among the turtles being tracked, scientists hope to get to know that gender of the species better. But the females will get their share of attention, too, especially the nine-year-old Loggerhead turtle from Japan that is about to lay its eggs.

Dr Diong said that if the study showed that captivity did not dim a turtles instincts, it would help oceanariums worldwide in furthering sea turtle conservation. "Oceanariums such as the Underwater World could take part in sea turtle conservation programmes by helping to raise turtles to a certain age and release them, if the period of captivity has no effect on their subsequent movements and migration in the sea," he said.

Yesterday, Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan symbolically released the turtles by splashing water on them. The turtles then boarded their container vessel, the Kota Hadiah, and headed for the freedom of the open sea. They may not have much privacy after that--but it's for a good cause. And who knows? A family reunion may come their way, too.

Straits Times 1 Aug 06
Twelve marine turtles from Sentosa's Underwater World will be released into the South China Sea today for a study on their migratory patterns.

They will be tagged with satellite-tracking devices for this project by the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University and the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The study will shed light on three turtle species.

Of the 12, eight are green turtles, two are loggerheads, and the remaining two, Olive Ridley turtles. The turtles will be released from a container ship north of Indonesia's Natuna island.

Sea Turtles to be released in the South China Sea for satellite-tracking on the habitatnews blog
Related articles on Wild shores and Sea turtles
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