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 Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

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: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>