Satellite Tracking Update: ‘Mateo’ and ‘Gabriela’

September 27, 2023

After swimming over 900 nautical miles (1,666 kilometers), ‘Mateo’ has reached her home at Jardines de la Reina. Since a few days she has stopped swimming long distances and she has stayed in the same area. This makes us believe that she has reached her second home. ‘Gabriela’ is still swimming along the north Colombian coast. We think that it is safe to say that they have both found home!

September 25, 2023

‘Mateo’ has slowly moved along the coast of Cuba. She is officially in the Jardines de la Reina and is slowly moving into the northern direction of the coast. Will she stay in Cuban waters? Or is she even going to pass this beautiful marine park to move to more northern waters? We will have to see this week!

September 20, 2023

The nests that were laid during the deployment of the satellite transmitters, have hatched! ‘Mateo’ her nests was a particularly deep nest with a depth of 1.04m! She also laid a very big nest with a total of 162 eggs in the nest. Some of these eggs were infertile, resulting in a total of 123 hatchlings that made it out of their egg. That means that the nest had a hatch success rate of 70%. Some of the hatchlings were still left in the nest by the time that we excavated it. We made sure all of them made it safely to the water! We think that the nest hatched on September 13.

‘Gabriela’ her nest has also hatched! We estimated that her nest hatched a day earlier than ‘Mateo’ her nest on September 12. Her nest was quite a bit smaller (which is normal for a loggerhead nest) with a total of 84 hatchlings making it out of the nest. She had a very successful nest with a hatch success rate of 87%!

September 19, 2023

After a short break along the coast of Haiti, ‘Mateo’ has made her way to Cuba! At this moment, she is very close to Jardines de la Reina. Jardines de la Reina has been a protected national park since 2010. It has an area of 2,170 square kilometers, consists out of 600 cays and islands and is one of Cuba’s largest protected areas. It is a very healthy ecosystem with many different marine species, coral species and mangroves. Just like on Bonaire, the marine park is an important nesting and foraging ground for green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. The Center of Fisheries Research (Cuba) has been conducting capture-mark-recapture research since 1989! So far, there has been no data of a Bonaire turtle being recaptured in Cuban waters. But ‘Mateo’ has shown us again that this marine reserve is an important area for the green turtles nesting on Bonaire.

‘Gabriela’ is still happily swimming up and down the Colombian coast!

September 12, 2023

‘Mateo’ has officially reached Haiti last night! She swam a total of 500 nautical miles (a little over 900 km) in two weeks time! Anneke, our green turtle from 2012, also passed Haiti on her way to Jardines de la Reina in Cuba. Would ‘Mateo’ join Anneke in this beautiful and healthy ecosystem?

In the meantime we think it is safe to say that ‘Gabriela’ has found her home foraging grounds in the northern peninsula of Colombia.

September 7, 2023

‘Mateo’ has been swimming for 10 days and has changed course in the direction of Jamaica. So far, we have not followed any green turtles to Jamaica, so this would be a new foraging ground for our green turtles.

September 4, 2023

‘Mateo’ is still moving further north. She swam almost 300 nautical miles so far, and is moving in the direction of Haiti. Will she follow Anneke, the green turtle from 2012 who stayed in Cuba? Or will she show us one of the new foraging grounds? We are eager to find out!

‘Gabriela’ might have just found her home in Colombia. She has been swimming along the coast of Colombia. And where we first thought that she might just rest to move to a different, further location, it seems as if she has found her home in Colombia.

August 31, 2023

After laying her fifth and last nest of this season, ‘Mateo’ has officially left Bonaire! She swam a little over 90 nautical miles north-west of Bonaire and is on her way to her foraging home!

There have been five green turtles that have been tracked by STCB before ‘Mateo’. They have shown that our green turtles have several different foraging grounds. Two of the tracked green turtles went to Los Roques, one to Jardines de la Reina in Cuba, one all the way to the Mexican coast and one to Nicaragua. Will ‘Mateo’ see one of these turtles at her foraging grounds? Or will she swim to a different foraging ground? We will have to wait and see!

‘Gabriela’ is still enjoying her stay along the Colombian coast.

August 29, 2023

One of the survival strategies of sea turtles is philopatry. Philopatry is the tendency of an organism to return to their home area for reproduction. This means that sea turtles will return to the beach where they once hatched from. They are capable of returning to the same area within a few kilometers! There are a few reasons why sea turtles go back to their natal area.

1. Returning to the same area every nesting season gives them a better guarantee to find a mating partner in the area.

2. By returning to the same area they will know that there is a suitable area to lay their nests: a sandy beach that has enough sand for the depth of their nests.

3. And returning to the same nesting area every season will create a strong genetic pool in which there is more resistance to diseases and viruses. In this way, natural selection creates a stronger survival chance for the sea turtles from certain areas.

Both Mateo and Gabriela have not moved much over the last week. Gabriela is still swimming along the Colombian coast while Mateo is still in the area of Playa Chikitu.

August 21, 2023

Both ‘Mateo’ and ‘Gabriela’ seem to really like the area they are in right now. ‘Mateo’ is starting to get restless and started to swim more and more. So far, we have not been able to confirm a 5th nest from ‘Mateo’.

‘Gabriela’ on the other hand seems to really enjoy her time in Colombia, she has moved slightly further west and is staying in the same coastal area of Colombia. It could be that she has already found her foraging grounds. ‘Doris’, a female hawksbill turtle that was tracked in 2009, also has her foraging grounds in Colombia. We will have to see and wait if ‘Gabriela’ is staying so close to us, or if she still has some energy to travel further.

August 14, 2023

Friday afternoon we received the message that ‘Mateo’ had left Bonaire. We expected her to start moving north after laying her fourth nest on Playa Chikitu on August 10. However, it looks like she did not go far and already has returned to the Playa Chikitu area! Since she returned to Bonaire, we are expecting her to lay her 5th nest around August 18.

August 4, 2023

Since the end of July, we know that ‘Gabriela’ had left Bonaire and started her journey west towards Colombia. However, when taking a closer look to her exact path we can see that she actually swam along the east side of Bonaire before leaving the island. We can even see that she has passed right by ‘Mateo’ on her way to Colombia!

August 3, 2023

After a few extra days of swimming, ‘Gabriela’ has reached Colombian waters and is staying close to the shore of Colombia at this moment. She has already swum 205 nautical miles (380 km) towards the west. We think that she might be resting before crossing bigger waters. We are very curious to see where she will be going next!

‘Mateo’ is still in Bonaire waters. She is staying close to Chikitu and has not moved much. We are still waiting for here to lay her next nests.

July 31, 2023

‘Gabriela’ is on the move! After the nesting season, adult females will return to their foraging grounds. These are often deeper reefs with more food sources than the shallow reefs. After ‘Gebriela’ spent a week resting after laying her last nest, we saw today that ‘Gabriela’ started moving away from Bonaire. She is on her way west and has already passed Aruba! She is now close to the border of Venezuela and Colombia, and we think she will soon reach Colombian waters. 

‘Mateo’ on the other hand is staying close to Bonaire. She is still in the area of Chikitu and we think that she might come onto shore soon to lay another nest.

July 24, 2023

On Friday, July 21, a satellite transmitter was deployed on a green turtle named ‘Mateo’ at Playa Chikitu. We watched ‘Mateo’ lay her nest and waited until she was done covering her nest before placing the transmitter on the top of her carapace. With this satellite transmitter, we will be able to follow her in real-time during her migration routes.

The satellite transmitter was placed at 1.00am by STCB staff and volunteers. We immediately received a signal and could see that ‘Mateo’ stayed around Playa Chikitu. We think that she is resting from laying her nest and think that this is her third nest of the season, meaning that she might come back onto shore to lay another nest this season.

On Sunday, July 23, another satellite transmitter was deployed. This time on a loggerhead turtle named ‘Gabriela’. This satellite transmitter was placed at 11.00pm at the Atlantis beach after she was done with the covering of her nest. ‘Gabriela’ has stayed close to the beach in the south and is still close to Bonaire. 

We cannot wait to see and find out where ‘Mateo’ and ‘Gabriela’ will travel!

Thank you to Joshua Mateo Fortes-Jordan, who loved the sea turtles of Bonaire and who has been the inspiration for ‘Mateo’ and ‘Gabriela’. 

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