An important element of the Cape May Monarch Monitoring has always been the tagging of some of the monarch butterflies that migrate through Cape May. Most of the monarchs we tag will never be relocated, but the few that are tell us a lot about the route and speed of migration. Some biologists doubted that any monarch butterflies migrating along the Atlantic coast could make it to the overwintering areas in Michoacan, Mexico. We've had several dozen tagged in Cape May found in Mexico, proving that at least some of our monarchs succeed in the great migratory journey.
We're pleased to report that it's happened again! We recently receive word that a monarch tagged by Samm Wehman Epstein (shown at right) was found in Mexico. Samm, last year's seasonal worker, placed a tag coded SJN 079 on a female monarch in Cape May Point on September 26, 2013, and that tagged butterfly was found at Macheros on February 27, 2014. Macheros is one of the southernmost known wintering areas for monarch butterflies within the Transvolcanic Mountain Range, located near the border between the states of Michoacan and Mexico, west of Mexico City.
Whenever I tag a monarch and watch it fly away, I feel like I'm sending out a message to the world, and hoping that message will be received. It's like the old message in a bottle. It's a rare and exciting experience to learn that one of the messages has been received. In terms of science, every tag recovery we receive teaches us more about monarch migration.
MMP Data Page. Numbers may be down for the next few days, as we're expecting a good bit of rain, but a cold front that's predicted to arrive late in the week could bring the season's first big push of monarchs into Cape May. We never know for sure, but it is certain that our team will be out there watching, counting, and tagging monarchs. And we promise to report back frequently with updates via this blog.