On-line turtle tracking

They may not have their own Facebook or MySpace pages yet, but sea turtles Haifa and Baraka are making a name for themselves on the Internet, now that both have been hooked up with electronic transmitters that allow anyone to go online and find out what the pair is up to and where. With the help of the 3M company, which provided the glue to attach the $6,000 transmitters, the two females were outfitted with them, after having laid their eggs in Israel, to track their migration pattern. A third female, Hava, was also outfitted but appears to have lost the transmitting device. Assisting in the project is Dr. Brandon Godley of the UK's Exeter University. "The important information [we are receiving] is that we know about the turtles, where they are. Until now, we only knew where they came out from the sea. But all their lives they live in the sea, and the most important thing is to learn about their routine lives, and not just when they are injured," Yaniv Levy, director of the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center, explained. The transmitter tells Levy and others from the center and the Israel Parks and Nature Authority "where they are going, and what they're doing, how many times they take air, what their diet pattern is - we know everything about their activities." Knowing, for example, the depth of the water where the turtles are swimming gives the crew following them an idea of how they are eating. Initial data shows that the turtles first head for Tunisia, where they spend the winter. Baraka has lately been determined to be off the Sinai coast, Levy said. Those interested in following the sea turtles can do so at www.seaturtle.org.