Some of them came home: the Cayman Turtle Farm headstarting project for the green turtle Chelonia mydas

  • Published source details Bell C. D. L., Parsons J., Austin T. J., Broderick A. C., Ebanks-Petrie G. & Godley B. J. (2005) Some of them came home: the Cayman Turtle Farm headstarting project for the green turtle Chelonia mydas. Oryx, 39, 137-148.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Sea turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Sea turtles

    A replicated study from 1980–2005 in the Cayman Islands and wider Caribbean (Bell et al. 2005) found that some released captive-bred and reared green turtles Chelonia mydas were recaptured as adults throughout the Caribbean, and some were observed successfully nesting. A total of 392 tagged animals were recaptured at intervals of six months to 19 years after release. Of these, 160 were recaptured in the Cayman Island and 232 from elsewhere (2 from Belize, 176 from Cuba, 8 from Honduras, 1 from Mexico, 38 from Nicaragua, 2 from Panama, 4 from USA and 1 from Venezuela). Eight turtles were observed nesting, and two individuals produced clutches of 112 and 110 eggs, with hatching success of 63% and 88%. Rearing occurred at the Cayman Turtle Farm: a commercial turtle meat operation that raised green turtles from captive adults and released excess turtles in to the wild. Eggs were laid on an artificial beach, incubated in a hatchery and then hatchlings reared in groups. Between 1980 and 2001, turtles were released (16,422 hatchlings, 14,347 yearlings and 65 turtles of 19–77 months old) during October–November. Approximately 80% of all turtles released were tagged using a variety of methods (notching, flipper tags and living tags). Recapture information came from intentional and accidental capture by fisheries throughout the Caribbean, stranding networks in the USA, an active recapture effort in 1994 (Cayman Islands) and observations of nesting females.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust