The satellite telemetry-tagged Olive Ridley turtle Sumitha has travelled about 40 km in the last three days.

According to Supraja Dharini, chairperson, TREE Foundation, on the first day the turtle swam towards east for about 12 km and then south near the Kovalam shore. It travelled further in the southern direction, covering 24 km, and on the second day the turtle was found at a distance of 37 km. On the third day, she moved towards north to a distance of three km, covering totally 40 km since her release.

In case the turtle is caught in a net, the movement of the tracking indicator would become static, she said. The satellite tag has been programmed to record signals once every 24 hours for the first three months and then every alternate day. The device's battery would switch on only when the turtle comes up to the surface of the water to breathe.

Satellite telemetry is a powerful but costly tool. The technique would help in learning the behavioural pattern of marine turtles. So far, 2,982 people had clicked on the link to track Sumitha from Monday morning, Dr. Dharini said.

R. Sundararaju, Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu, said the tagging programme was approved only after the Wildlife wing of the State Forest Department obtained permission from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and clearance from the Customs authorities.

The tagging would help in knowing whether the same turtle visited the place from where she was released and how many times she laid eggs in a season.

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