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Radio May Reveal Sea Turtle Habitat

July 22, 1986|United Press International

SHOREHAM, N.Y. — Two rare Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, with tiny radio transmitters attached to their shells to monitor their movements, were released Monday into a canal next to a nuclear power plant on Long Island.

The radio devices will show whether the turtles have established a new habitat in Long Island waters or stay only during warm months, said Samuel Sadove, director of the Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation in Hampton Bays.

Previously, it was believed that the turtles migrated to Long Island from a single breeding ground on 20 miles of beach in Mexico. But last fall and winter, about 40 of the turtles were found in cold Long Island waters, raising speculation that they are staying there all year.

Many of those found last winter became ill and died, and others were shipped south by the foundation, Sadove said. The two released Monday were kept at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts after their capture.

The turtles were put into the canal at the Shoreham nuclear power plant to allow them to get re-acclimated to sea life without being disturbed by boats, fishermen or beachgoers, a Long Island Lighting Co. spokesman said.

Later, when the turtles venture down the canal and into Long Island Sound, the radio devices will track them if they migrate and will provide other information, such as where they feed, Sadove said. Kemp's Ridley are the smallest of all sea turtles. Adults weigh between 86 and 109 pounds and have shells about 2 feet long.

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