WIDECAST maintains a regional Marine Turtle Tagging Centre (MTTC) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Barbados, operated by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project.
The aim of the MTTC is to strengthen and coordinate dozens of otherwise isolated small-scale tagging projects, and to encourage and enable collaboration among range States with regard to sea turtle tagging. Since its establishment in 2001, the Centre has distributed tags to research projects in more than 20 Caribbean nations and territories. Many more have received field training, information on best practices, and assistance of various kinds. The Centre archives tag fate data for all participating projects, and provides a central clearinghouse for information on tag returns and the documented international movements of sea turtles.
A Manual of Recommended Practices is designed to complement the field Training, and is available from the Centre upon request. The manual provides guidance on why to tag sea turtles, what type(s) of tags to use, and how to prepare, apply, and remove a tag from a sea turtle. In addition, the manual identifies tag manufacturers, summarizes current literature, and offers advice on tagging in the presence of fibropapilloma disease.
If you encounter a tagged turtle, how do you know where it’s from? Examine the tag – it will have a unique alphanumeric code on one side and a return address on the other. By writing to the address given, you can find out when and where the tag was placed. WIDECAST tag series start with the following prefixes: WC, WE, WH, WK, WM, WN, WP or WS. They have a University of the West Indies, Barbados return address but they could have been put on a sea turtle by project staff anywhere in the Caribbean. For more information on the origin of various tag series used in the Greater Atlantic region, visit the University of Florida’s “Cooperative Marine Turtle Tagging Program” database. Never remove a tag from a living sea turtle unless the tag is causing infection or other harm to the animal.
Database Management Software
The “Santo Domingo Declaration” specifically calls for the development of mechanisms to enhance information-sharing among Caribbean range States, and the standardization of data collection and analysis protocols. Little progress on cooperative and collaborative management of shared sea turtle stocks can occur absent the ability of States to collect, analysis, archive, and share population-level data in a compatible electronic format.
To this end, database management software is also available from the Centre. The software is designed to manage tagging data, including maintaining the identity of individual turtles within the database even after their original tags have been lost. A Users Manual discusses data entry, data analysis (reports and queries), and data management and includes standardized data entry forms for nesting, hatching, stranding, sighting, and capture events.
The Microsoft AccessTM-based software, now in its Fourth Version, will soon be available to download from this page. The next step is to adapt the program for use on PDA platforms, as well as to offer downloadable upgrades. For now, please contact the Centre if you’d like a copy of this complementary software.
Prof. Julia Horrocks
WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging Centre
c/o Dept. Biological and Chemical Sciences
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus (POB 64)
Bridgetown, Barbados BB11000
Tel: (246) 417-4320
Fax: (246) 417-4325