Sir Thomas Turtleton the turtle free at last

A turtle of the same species as Sir Thomas. Photo: Brocken Inaglory (cc)

A Cayman Island turtle farm is to release a 60-year-old turtle, Sir Thomas Turtleton, in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne. Sir Thomas weighs 600 lbs and has enjoyed a 30-year career as a stud turtle. From the press release:

As part of the Tag and Track programme, Green Sea Turtles fitted with satellite transmitters are released into the ocean and monitored online. When the animal surfaces during a transmission period, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.

As Sir Thomas Turtleton travels following his release, the team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will be able to use the data as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Farm and in like-minded organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.


  1. Is it really a kindness to the turtle to subject him to the dangers of the wild after being accustomed to life in captivity?

    1. Sir Thomas Turtleton weighs in at over 600 lbs so at that size, there are few predators (other than humans!) that would even attempt to target him. He is also not unfamiliar with life in the wild, having been hatched in the wild and having spent his first years – over 20 of them – in the wild before becoming a stud at the farm. In addition, the research data from releases such as Sir Thomas will inform future decision-makers responsible for turtles that for various reasons have been kept in captivity for several years, for example to rehabilitate them after injury or illness in the wild, or to conduct research, or to breed in captivity. Obtaining data as to behaviour of an adult turtle released into the wild after so many years in captivity, will enable better decisions as to what is best to do with turtles in such circumstances in future. Other scientists, and the general public, can see Sir Thomas’ track online at

      Cayman Turtle Farm has developed unparalleled expertise in the breeding, care and successful release of Green Sea turtles. It was the first facility in the world to achieve successful captive breeding of the Kemp’s Ridley species, among the world’s most endangered sea turtles, and provided a hundred hatchlings for release back into the wild in their natural environment from beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. It is still the only facility in the world to have successfully achieved the second generation of sea turtles bred, laid, hatched, and raised in a proven sustainable closed cycle at the farm that takes no eggs or hatchlings or adults from the wild. Several captive-bred living-tagged “yearlings” released over two decades ago are now (in recent laying seasons) returning as adults to nest on beaches in Grand Cayman. More information on various scientific papers produced in collaboration with Cayman Turtle Farm is available on the farm’s website

      Sir Thomas is part of a current research project the farm is conducting, called “Tag & Track”. A number of captive-bred turtles, or in the case of Sir Thomas adult turtles that have been in captivity for many years, are being released to study their behaviours after introduction to the wild. Indications so far are that even the second-generation captive-bred sea turtles – neither they nor their parents nor their grandparents have ever before been in the wild – very quickly adapt after release, are able to successfully find good habitat and food to sustain their life in the wild, and after a variable period of time around Grand Cayman (which also has good habitat for sea turtles) they eventually proceed to navigate on a steady course in migration to foraging grounds elsewhere in the Caribbean.

      — Tim Adam, Managing Director,
      Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter
      786 North West P0int Road, West Bay, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Comments are closed.