Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Survey identifies sea turtle 'hitchhikers'

09.11.2011
"It is strange to think of a sea turtle as an ecosystem," says Amanda Feuerstein, program coordinator and research assistant at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, "but they are…they have all of these other animals living on their skin and shells."

Feuerstein is co-author of a recent survey documenting the crustaceans, mollusks, algae and other marine organisms that make a home on the bodies Olive Ridley and green sea turtles living in the Pacific.

For three years -- 2001, 2002 and 2008 -- on Teopa Beach in Jalisco, Mexico, Feuerstein and colleagues examined the shell, neck and flippers of female turtles that had come out onto the beach to nest, collecting and carefully documenting all the organisms -- known as epibionts -- they found. It is the first comprehensive survey on Pacific turtle epibionts, and was recently published in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. The survey was organized by the Turtle Epibiont Project of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Sixteen different epibiont species were found on the turtles, Feuerstein says, including crabs, a variety of barnacles, the remora or "shark sucker," and leeches. Most of the Pacific sea turtle epibionts are obligate -- meaning they are found only on sea turtles, nowhere else.

Compared to turtles living in the Atlantic, "the Pacific turtles are coming up pretty darn clean," says Eric Lazo-Wasme of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, lead author of the study. Similar surveys of Atlantic Ocean turtles have recorded as many as 90 epibiont species living on them. The scientists are uncertain why Pacific turtles have fewer epibionts.

"For years we considered epibionts as harmless hitchhikers on the turtles, but that opinion is starting to change," Lazo-Wasem explains. "Barnacles in large numbers can cause significant drag on a turtle as it swims and some barnacles embed into the skin and have very long projections that pierce laterally into the skin." Leeches have also been shown to transmit disease.

The impetus for the survey was born out of conservation concern for sea turtles as an endangered species. Coevolutionary relationships between turtles and their epibionts, and how these relationships affect turtle health and ecology have only recently come under scrutiny, the researchers say.

The study includes photographs of and taxonomic commentary on each of the epibiont species documented and survey instructions for future studies on how to collect epibionts from sea turtles.

"We wanted to make the paper one that people could really use," Lazo-Wasem says. "We weren't really pleased with past surveys because there was not a lot of detail in them."

"When we endanger animals like sea turtles many other groups of animals are affected," Feuerstein says. "Loosing one species is more complicated and tragic" than people may realize.

"Epibionts Associated with the Nesting Marine Turtles Lepidochelys olivacea and Chelonia mydas in Jalisco, Mexico: A Review and Field Guide," appeared in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History and was co-authored by Eric Lazo-Wasem, Amanda Feuerstein, Theodora Pinou of Western Connecticut State University and Alejandro Pena de Niz, of the Centro Para La Proteccion y Conservacion de Tortugas Marinas.

John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.si.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>