As species of conservation concern, sea turtles have historically been difficult to study because of their elusive nature and extensive ranges, but improvements in telemetry have facilitated insights into life histories and behaviours which can potentially inform conservation policies. To date, there have been few assessments of the impact of satellite tracking data on species conservation, and it is difficult to clearly gauge whether the dividends justify the costs. Through an extensive review of the literature (369 papers, 1982–2014) and a questionnaire-based survey of 171 sea turtle tracking researchers, we evaluate the conservation dividends gained thus far from tracking and highlight conservation successes. We discuss who is tracking and where, where biases in effort exist, and evaluate the impact of tracking data on conservation. Conservation issues are increasingly being considered. Where research recommends policy change, the quality of advice varies and the level of uptake is still uncertain, with few clearly described examples of tracking-data actually influencing policy. The means to increase the conservation impact are discussed, including: disseminating findings more widely; communicating and collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders for more effective data sharing; community liaison, and endeavouring to close the gaps between researchers and conservation practitioners.