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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora