News / Science & Technology

Unfolding Mystery of Sea Turtles' ‘Lost Years’

Sea Turtles' ‘Lost Years’ Mystery Unfoldsi
X
Rosanne Skirble
March 11, 2014 9:32 PM
Satellite tracking devices attached to young sea turtles have provided new information on the so-called ‘lost years’ of this endangered species. As soon as the hatchlings emerge from their sandy nest, they scurry down the beach to the ocean and disappear into the deep for many years before returning to the beach to mate. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has more.
Rosanne Skirble
Satellite tracking devices attached to young sea turtles have provided new information on the so-called ‘lost years’ of this endangered species.

As soon as the hatchlings emerge from their sandy nest, they scurry down the beach to the ocean and disappear into the deep for many years before returning to the beach to mate. 
 
Satellite technology catches up

The young turtles are tiny and always on the move, making them almost impossible to track. 

A new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to report their early behavior and movement.

Sea Turtles' ‘Lost Years’ Mystery Unfolds
Sea Turtles' ‘Lost Years’ Mystery Unfolds i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Lead author Kate Mansfield, a marine biologist at the University of Central Florida, credits small remote sensing devices.

Loggerhead turtles were tagged and released from Florida’s Atlantic coast, then followed for up to 220 days. (Jim Abernethy, NMFS)Loggerhead turtles were tagged and released from Florida’s Atlantic coast, then followed for up to 220 days. (Jim Abernethy, NMFS)
x
Loggerhead turtles were tagged and released from Florida’s Atlantic coast, then followed for up to 220 days. (Jim Abernethy, NMFS)
Loggerhead turtles were tagged and released from Florida’s Atlantic coast, then followed for up to 220 days. (Jim Abernethy, NMFS)
“Because they were solar powered, they did not require huge batteries in order to communicate with overhead satellites,” she explained. “So we were able to use much smaller tags that had become available [to put] on smaller turtles.” 
 
Mansfield and her colleagues glued tags onto 17 baby loggerheads and released them on Florida’s Atlantic coast. The team tracked the turtles through the open ocean for up to 220 days. They expected that the turtles would remain at the sea surface, and, based on information from the satellite tags, they were able to validate that belief. 
 
Sargasso Sea habitat
 
Other satellite data, Mansfield says, provided unexpected information about the movement of the turtles in the large circular current of the North Atlantic.  About half of the group moved out of the current into the Sargasso Sea at its center.
Young loggerhead seeks refuge in Sargassum seaweed off the Florida coast. (Photo by Jim Abernethy)Young loggerhead seeks refuge in Sargassum seaweed off the Florida coast. (Photo by Jim Abernethy)
“That was pretty exciting, and it shows that the turtles have a little bit more variability in their movement patterns than this original idea of this large circular migration, one-way unidirectional migration around the Atlantic,” says Mansfield.
 
The Sargasso Sea turns out to be a popular refuge with a floating seaweed buffet where the young loggerheads can forage and find shelter. 

The turtles tap the thermal benefit of the warmer surface water and eat the crustaceans and other small marine organisms that live on the mats of algae.  Mansfield says identifying critical habitats, like the Sargasso Sea, is an important step for wildlife protection.
 
Kate Mansfield is working on expanding her research beyond loggerheads in the Atlantic to monitor the behavior of young turtles in other ocean basins. Sea turtles are endangered or threatened in every ocean system in the world.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 14, 2014 6:01 AM
Ok


by: Karter
March 14, 2014 5:58 AM
Thank goodness II'm not the only one who is trying to save TURTLES!!!!!!!!!!! (I LOVE THEM) and thank you for the information.;) and thank you for your time and effort so you can find these important discovery I am a"tturtle".

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid