Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Unravels Mystery of Sea Turtles’ ‘Lost Years’

07.03.2014

Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., associate professor of biological science at Florida Atlantic University, and Kate Mansfield, Ph.D., a co-investigator at the University of Central Florida, are the first to successfully track neonate sea turtles in the Atlantic Ocean waters during what had previously been called their “lost years.” Findings from the study appear today in the journal Proceeding of the Royal Society B.

The “lost years” refer to the time after turtles hatch and head out to sea until they are seen again upon returning to near-shore waters as large juveniles. The time at sea is often called the “lost years” because not much has been known about where the young turtles go and how they interact with their oceanic environment, until now.


Photo credit: Jim Abernethy

A neonate sea turtle with tracking device attached to its shell makes its way in Atlantic waters.

With small, non-invasive, solar-powered satellite transmitters attached to the turtles’ shells, Wyneken and the team were able to track 17 neonate loggerhead sea turtles for periods ranging from 27 to 220 days and for distances ranging from 124 miles to 2,672 miles.

“Prior to tagging these threatened sea turtles, all we knew about this part of their life’s journey came from one turtle that had been followed for three days,” Wyneken said. “From the time they leave our shores, we don’t hear anything about them until they are found near the Canary Islands. Those waters are a bit like nursery school for them, as they stay for about four to eight years. There’s a whole lot that happens crossing the Atlantic that we knew nothing about.”

Along with Wyneken and Mansfield, Warren P. Porter, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and Jiangang Luo, from the University of Miami, found that some of their results challenge previously held beliefs.

While the turtles remain in oceanic waters off the Continental Shelf, the study found that little loggerhead turtles sought the surface of the water as predicted. But they do not necessarily remain within the major currents associated with the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. It was historically thought that loggerhead turtles hatching from Florida’s east coast complete a long, developmental migration in a large circle around the Atlantic entrained in these currents. But the team’s data suggest that turtles may drop out of these currents into the middle of the Atlantic or the Sargasso Sea.

The team also found that the turtles mostly stayed at the sea surface, where they were exposed to the sun’s energy, and the turtles’ shells registered more heat than anticipated (as recorded by sensors in the satellite tags), leading the team to consider a new hypothesis about why the turtles seek refuge in Sargassum, a type of seaweed found on the surface of the water in the deep ocean. Sargassum is a habitat long associated with young sea turtles.

“We propose that young turtles remain at the sea surface to gain a thermal benefit,” Mansfield said. “This makes sense because the turtles are cold blooded animals. By remaining at the sea surface, and by associating with Sargassum habitat, turtles gain a thermal refuge of sorts that may help enhance growth and feeding rates, among other physiological benefits.”

Wyneken and Mansfield are currently working under grants from NOAA, Florida Sea Turtle License Plate fund, Save Our Seas Foundation, and several individual donors to conduct further work on the sea turtle “lost years.”

“Our satellite tracks help define Atlantic loggerhead nursery grounds and early loggerhead habitat use,” said Wyneken. “This allows us to reexamine the sea turtle ‘lost years’ paradigms.”

For more information, contact Jeanette Wyneken at 561-297-0146 or jwyneken@fau.edu.
-FAU-

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu

Paige Garrido | newswise

Further reports about: Atlantic Sargasso Sea Sargassum Subtropical neonate sea turtle satellite turtles

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht New approach for environmental test on livestock drugs
27.07.2016 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Managing an endangered river across the US-Mexico border
18.07.2016 | 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: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cleanroom on demand

29.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Crystal unclear: Why might this uncanny crystal change laser design?

29.08.2016 | Materials Sciences

Spherical tokamaks could provide path to limitless fusion energy

29.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>