Our turtles’ tracks are no longer hugging tightly to one another. Instead, you can see Miss Margaret making her way toward the nesting beaches. We know that she has nested in Trinidad before, so we ultimately expect to see her land there.
You’ll note that the last date for Jacquelyn’s track is January 5. This is because we haven’t had a good quality location from her transmitter since then. We’ve had some poor quality locations over the last few days and have heard nothing yet today.
We aren’t worried that something has happened to Jacquelyn herself at this point. We suspect instead that there may be epibionts (organisms, like barnacles or algae, that live on other organisms) growing on her satellite tag, preventing it from working properly.
When this happens, we say that the tag is “biofouled.” Biofouling is a problem because it prevents the salt-water switch on the tag from drying out properly. When the salt-water switch is dry (which normally happens when the turtle is at the surface of the water), the satellite tag transmits data. If the switch isn’t dry or if it is covered, the data is not transmitted.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next week or two.