The “Lost Years” of Juvenile Turtles Discovered

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Sea Turtle with a satellite attached to its shell.

Oceanic-stage juvenile turtles, a life stage called the “lost years”, are being tracked using small satellites attached to their shells, opening windows for new behavioral data for sea turtles. 

Katherine Mansfield, Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida, and her colleagues conducted a study on the “lost years” of a turtle’s life in order to understand new behavioral data of sea turtles.  A turtles “lost years” refer to the life stage right after the turtle hatches on a beach and makes its way to the ocean for the first time.  Mansfield’s findings suggest that oceanic-stage turtles rarely travel in predator-rich Continental Shelf waters, frequently depart the currents associated with the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre, travel quickly when in Gyre currents, and select sea surface habitats that are likely to provide a thermal benefit and shelter for foraging and survival.

Solar-powered satellite transmitters were used to track the turtle’s movements while at sea.  The team collected 17 newborn loggerhead sea turtles off the southeast coast of Florida and attached the satellites to their shells before releasing them into the Gulf Stream.

This data on newborn sea turtles is crucial for understanding the behavior and movement of these turtles.  This data can also significantly benefit future management techniques as well as provide an understanding as to how sea turtles survive and act during their “lost years.”

To read more about this study click here.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Source:

  1. K. L. Mansfield, J. Wyneken, W. P. Porter, J. Luo. First satellite tracks of neonate sea turtles redefine the ‘lost years’ oceanic nicheProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2014; 281 (1781): 20133039 DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.3039

Photo:

http://saveourseas.com/projects/tracking_turtles

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