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Sea Turtles FeeBee and Milton to be Released with Satellite Tracking Device

06.10.2008
Two six-year-old Loggerhead turtles, FeeBee and Milton, have grown large enough to be released into the waters of Florida at the end of this month.

To celebrate their release into the wild, a “Goodbye” party will take place on Sunday, October 5, from 1-4 p.m. at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center located at 1801 North Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton. The event, which is open to the public, will include information about the rearing and care of FeeBee and Milton and satellite tracking that is planned when they are released. Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet the scientists who played integral roles in their lives.

Feebee and Milton were hatched in July 2002 from two separate nests. FeeBee’s nest was washed over by several storms and only 16 of the 94 eggs hatched. FeeBee was the sole survivor of her nest. Milton, on the other hand, was one of 102 eggs which hatched from his nest. Dr. Jeannette Wyneken, associate professor of biological sciences, an expert in conservation and marine biology, and two graduate and six undergraduate students in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at FAU worked with FeeBee and Milton for a national sea turtle sex-ratio study she was conducting.

“The gender of a sea turtle usually cannot be determined until they are 15-25 years-old,” said Wyneken. “As part of this study, what we were able to develop was a way to identify their sex when they were three-months-old and the information is helping us to address the implications of skewed sex-ratios in sea turtles.”

Knowing sex ratios and how they change over time is critical for the recovery of imperiled species. “Basically, we are identifying the baselines again which future changes in sex-ratios can be identified before they become so skewed that there are problems,” said Wyneken. “It is critical that there are enough males and females to allow for successful breeding.”

Since the day they hatched, FeeBee and Milton have called Gumbo Limbo home, first at the FAU marine lab. At three months of age, they moved just 50 feet away from the lab and have since spent quality time with Dr. Kirt Rusenko, the marine conservationist at the Center.

“These turtles have meant so much to us and to the community,” said Rusenko. “We will be monitoring them closely for the next year by using satellite tags to learn more about their behavior and movements.” Rosenko has been working closely with Dr. Katherine Mansfeld from the University of Miami who has extensive experience with satellite tagged sea turtles.

The satellite tracking maps for FeeBee and Milton will be available to everyone on the Web at http://www.seaturtle.org and http://www.gumbolimbo.org.

For more information about the “Goodbye” party for FeeBee and Milton, call 561-338-1582 or visit http://www.gumbolimbo.org.

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges: College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Barry Kaye College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Gisele Galoustian | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gumbolimbo.org
http://www.seaturtle.org
http://www.fau.edu

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