Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and University of Central Florida have found that young sea turtles are very active swimmers and that they do not simply drift along ocean currents.
For this new study, researchers used solar-powered tags on 24 green and 20 Kemp’s ridley wild-caught sea turtle toddlers in the Gulf of Mexico. The tags were tracked by satellite for a short period of time before shedding cleanly from the turtle shells. Also, the researchers deployed small, carefully-weighted/passively-drifting surface buoys that were also tracked by satellite.
After comparing the drifter trackers to the sea turtles’ movements, the researchers found that the turtles’ paths differed significantly from ocean currents.
“All species of sea turtles are endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act; knowing their distribution is an essential part of protecting them. With a better understanding of swimming behavior in these yearlings we can make better predictions about where they go and what risks they might encounter,” said Dr. Nathan Putman, lead author of the study and sea turtle biologist with NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami.
This new study, published in the journal Current Biology, is believed to be an important new clue in understanding sea turtles.
“The results of our study have huge implications for better understanding early sea turtle survival and behavior, which may ultimately lead to new and innovative ways to further protect these imperiled animals,” Mansfield said.
“What is exciting is that this is the first study to release drifters with small, wild-caught yearling or neonate sea turtles in order to directly test the ‘passive drifter’ hypothesis in these young turtles. Our data show that one hypothesis doesn’t, and shouldn’t, fit all, and that even a small degree of swimming or active orientation can make a huge difference in the dispersal of these young animals,” she added.
For comments and suggestions, leave a message in the comments section below. Like and Follow our Facebook page for more stories and to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings.