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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid