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Tagging Turtles: Side Effects?

Discussion in 'Ocean Conservation' started by tarponchik, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. tarponchik

    tarponchik Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: USA
    1,462
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    I've seen turtles with flipper tags many times. For example, in Bonaire turtles are tagged with plastic tags and in Mexico metal tags are used. I haven't seen any harm in this till I spotted a turtle in Akumal Bay with what looked like a tumor developed around the tag (see the attached picture). Brief googling on turtle tagging lead me to this article where the metals used for tagging are described as titanium and Monel and Inconel alloys, both high in nickel. The metal in the photo does not look like titanium to me, so it could be one of these alloys.

    Nickel alloys, though widely used in human piercing, are not without side effects. Nickel is #1 metal that causes allergies. Strippers allegedly call it "pole rash" and in their case the cause is in constant contact with nickel-plated poles. Others get nickel allergy from piercing. While in most cases it is irritating but harmless, I can speculate that this unfortunate turtle (a rather large Green) had possibly developed chronic inflammation that resulted in tissue growth around the tag. So maybe metal alloy tags are not so safe.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. k4kafka

    k4kafka Barracuda

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    Will someone please explain to me the purpose of all this tagging...
     
  3. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
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    2,540
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    It is the same for any tagged species. It provides information about survival rates, migration patterns, etc. that assists in trying to manage a species. Does it need protection? If some body sees a turtle dead or alive they see a turtle. If they see a tag, often this is reported. Over time one finds out if there are separate populations, one large population, etc.
     
  4. driftwood

    driftwood Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location:
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    True story.

    There is a professor at Texas State University studying fresh water musk turtles. He paints the shells yellow and numbers the subjects. No harm to the turtles from the paint, but they are highly visible to the resident hawks who have developed a taste for turtle.
     
  5. hankypank

    hankypank Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne
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    I do quite a bit of work with tagging turtles for conservation management as well as facial ID databases which work on similar principles but can gather much more data. tagging turtles does have many benefits, as touched on in the post above. If placed correctly then the tags should not cause any harm to the turtle after the initial placement. If put in the wrong position, then the tags can rip out or as the turtle grows, then there may be not enough room for the flipper to grow into, which can cause the tag to sometimes get a little grown over.

    That turtle tag looks pretty messed up. What part of the work were you in? I suspect that it is a tumor caused by Fibropapillomatosis. This is seen in Green turtles around florida, Hawii and I have seen it recently in greenys at Komodo too. Its thought to be from a virus and is also proposed to proliferate in areas with lots of nutrient run off as well as a certain sea grass species which might as as a vector.
     
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  6. tarponchik

    tarponchik Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: USA
    1,462
    266
    83
    So you are saying that in this case it does not matter whether plastic or metal tag was used, correct?
     

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