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A turtle turned tourist: one of the two young voyagers

Andaman Turtles Set to Become Tracker Tourists

Monday, December 28, 2009
TWO turtles are heading out into the Andaman Sea this evening with the hopes and best wishes of the people of Greater Phuket riding on their backs.

With those hopes and best wishes, the Olive Ridley turtles' shells will be carrying GPS tracking devices that can tell those at home base where they are heading.

It's the first time two turtles like these have been equipped with such sophisticated tracking devices, costing 120,000 baht per carapace.

''These turtles are both two years old and have been raised since they were hatched in captivity,'' said Dr Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, of the Marine Environment Specia Unit at the Phuket marine Biology Centre.

If all goes well, another five turtles will be released with similar tracking devices in March.

As for the two pioneers, they are being let loose tonight at Thai Muang beach in Phang Nga under a program sponsored by the Aleenta Resort, on the coast nearby.

Turtle movements are still largely a mystery, especially in their early years. Mature adults are believed to range for thousands of kilometres as far as India or the Philippines, or even Australia.

Another riddle is whether these two two-year-olds are male or female. The biologists just cannot tell: they are too young. From five or six, they will be mature.

The Aleenta's web site will offer fans a chance to follow the turtles, and it is hoped they have plenty of commonsense and can tell the difference between a jellyfish and a plastic bag.

While Phuket has become too developed to have turtles leave eggs in their traditional laying grounds along the beaches, hundreds still deposit eggs along the Phang Nga coast.

Eggs on the beaches are stolen for food mostly by construction workers or villagers who do not understand the priority is now to breed turtles, not eat them.

More turtles have come back this year, Dr Kongkiat said, and biologists are hopeful the signs are encouraging. Even a rare leatherback, once a joy to behold in substantial numbers along the Andaman, has been sighted.

Events at the Aleenta have so far raised about 500,000 baht for the project. Progress of the turtles can be tracked at
http://www.aleenta.com/phuket/turtleTracking/index.php
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Turtles progress on the web site only gives this result . . . " Thank you for your donation. We have raised enough money for 3 GPS devices to track 3 turtles. The GPS devices are currently being sourced and imported into Thailand. We estimate about 1 month process. Please watch this space for further updates. "
Come on Aleenta you do much better than that, please ?

Posted by Graham on December 29, 2009 08:40

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Dear Graham, thanks for your comments. I am aware of this and we are in the process of updating the information on our website. Unfortunately, we did not count in that our webmaster is out of the office for a few days during this period.

We have received the first tracking data from the GPS devices. I hope to have it up there by end of today but depend on third parties for this one. I hope this clarifies. Regards, Urs

Posted by Urs Aebi on December 30, 2009 11:43

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Dear Readers,
We have put up a message explaining the delay in displaying the tracking date on our website. Visit www.aleenta.com and click on the turtle fund button on the landing page. See you soon! Urs - Aleenta

Posted by Urs Aebi on December 30, 2009 17:15


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