Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

For the first time, scientists tag a loggerhead sea turtle off US West Coast

12.05.2015

Data from the satellite tag should help scientists understand what habitats loggerheads use and how to more effectively protect this endangered species

Fifty miles out to sea from San Diego, in the middle of April, under a perfectly clear blue sky, NOAA Fisheries scientists Tomo Eguchi and Jeff Seminoff leaned over the side of a rubber inflatable boat and lowered a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle into the water. That turtle was a trailblazer -- the first of its kind ever released off the West Coast of the United States with a satellite transmitter attached.


The first ever loggerhead sea turtle to be tagged off the U.S. West Coast, along with two of the NOAAFisheries scientists who tagged him, Jeff Seminoff (left) and Tomo Eguchi.

Photo copyright Ralph Pace

Once he was in the water, the little guy -- "he's about the size of a dinner plate," Seminoff said -- paddled away to begin a long journey. He's been beaming back his location ever since.

That location data will help scientists answer some very important questions about this endangered species.

"We know that there are juvenile loggerheads in this part of the Pacific, but they're small and very hard to spot," Eguchi said. "So we don't have good data on what types of habitat they're using."

Part of the reason for the mystery is that, although scientists have long been tagging adult sea turtles, the transmitters have only recently been made small enough to attach to juvenile sea turtles. Today, new tagging methods are quickly shedding light on what scientists once called the "lost years" -- the early years of a sea turtle's life when their migration patterns were mostly unknown.

Scientists have known for a while, however, that juvenile loggerheads sometimes use the same habitat as swordfish, especially when the water becomes unusually warm. They know this because loggerheads are occasionally caught in the gillnets used by swordfish fishermen.

Important Data for Conservation

To protect the turtles, NOAA Fisheries created the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area off the coast of Southern California. When water temperatures rise, or are forecasted to rise, as happens during an El Niño event, managers close that area to the drift gillnet fishery for swordfish. That happened for the first time last summer.

One reason scientists are excited about releasing a tagged loggerhead is that the data it provides might allow managers to fine-tune fishery closures.

"If it turns out that the turtles like different habitat than swordfish, or if they use the same habitat but at different times, then there might be a way to allow fishermen to fish while still keeping turtle hotspots protected," Seminoff said. "It would be a win-win."

An Unlikely Journey

The pioneering loggerhead sea turtle had been plucked from the ocean a few weeks earlier by a Coast Guard vessel and brought to the Aquarium of the Pacific for medical attention, but veterinarians soon decided that the turtle was healthy and could be released. Scientists took advantage of the turtle's unlikely detour to outfit it with a satellite tag.

The tag should stay on for 4 or 5 months. As long as it's attached, people can follow the turtle's travels on this loggerhead turtle movement map, which is updated several times a day.

The turtle has traveled more than 200 km so far, though it's still unclear whether the animal is just hitching a ride on the currents or actively swimming. Scientists hope to answer that question as more data come in.

"Either way," said Seminoff, "that's a long way for such a little guy."

Media Contact

Jim Milbury
jim.milbury@noaa.gov
562-980-4006

 @NOAAFisheries

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov 

Jim Milbury | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>