Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Sea turtles 'lost years' mystery starts to unravel
by Staff Writers
Orlando FL (SPX) Mar 06, 2014


File image.

Small satellite-tracking devices attached to sea turtles swimming off Florida's coast have delivered first-of-its-kind data that could help unlock they mystery of what endangered turtles do during the "lost years."

The "lost years" refers to the time after turtles hatch and head to sea where they remain for many years before returning to near-shore waters as large juveniles. The time period is often referred to as 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.

"What is exciting is that we provide the first look at the early behavior and movements of young sea turtles in the wild," said UCF biologist Kate Mansfield, who led the team.

"Before this study, most of the scientific information about the early life history of sea turtles was inferred through genetics studies, opportunistic sightings offshore, or laboratory-based studies. With real observations of turtles in their natural environment, we are able to examine and reevaluate existing hypotheses about the turtles' early life history. This knowledge may help managers provide better protection for these threatened and endangered species."

Findings from the study appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

A team of scientists from the UCF, Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and University of Wisconsin, tracked 17 loggerhead turtles for 27 to 220 days in the open ocean using small, solar-powered satellite tags. The goal was to better understand the turtles' movements, habitat preferences, and what role temperature may play in early sea turtle life history.

Some of the findings challenge previously held beliefs
While the turtles remain in oceanic waters (traveling between 124 miles to 2,672 miles) off the continental shelf and the loggerhead turtles sought the surface of the water as predicted, the study found that the turtles do not necessarily remain within the 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 while the turtles mostly stayed at the sea surface, where they were exposed to the sun's energy, 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. It is a type of seaweed found on the surface of the water in the deep ocean 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."

More research will be needed, but it's a start at cracking the "lost years" mystery
The findings are important because the loggerhead turtles along with other sea turtles are threatened or endangered species. Florida beaches are important to their survival because they provide important nesting grounds in North America. More than 80% of Atlantic loggerheads nest along Florida's coast. There are other important nesting grounds and nursing areas for sea turtles in the western hemisphere found from as far north as Virginia to South America and the Caribbean.

"From the time they leave our shores, we don't hear anything about them until they surface near the Canary Islands, which is like their primary school years," said Florida Atlantic University professor Jeannette Wyneken, the study's co- PI and author.

"There's a whole lot that happens during the Atlantic crossing that we knew nothing about. Our work helps to redefine Atlantic loggerhead nursery grounds and early loggerhead habitat use."

Mansfield joined UCF in 2013. She has a Ph.D. from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and a master's degree from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. She previously worked at Florida International University, through the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) in association with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Services.

She was a National Academies NRC postdoctoral associate based at NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and remains an affiliate faculty in Florida Atlantic University's biology department where Wyneken is based.

With colleagues at each institution Mansfield conducted research that has helped further the understanding of the sea turtle "lost years" and sea turtle life history as a whole. For example she and Wyneken developed a satellite tagging method using a non-toxic manicure acrylic, old wetsuits, and hair-extension glue to attach satellite tags to small turtles. Tagging small turtles is very difficult by traditional means because of their small size and how fast they grow.

Mansfield is currently working under grants from NOAA and the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate fund to conduct work on the sea turtle "lost years." Other members on the team are: Wyneken, Warren P. Porter from the University of Wisconsin and Jiangang Luo from the University of Miami.

.


Related Links
University of Central Florida
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
Marshall Islands says climate change behind floods
Majuro (AFP) Marshall Islands (AFP) March 05, 2014
Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change Wednesday for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro which has left 1,000 people homeless. The Marshalls declared a state of emergency in the wake of the flooding, which peaked Monday when surges caused by so-called "king tides" inundated areas of the low-lying capital. Senator Tony de Brum, the Minister Assisting th ... read more


WATER WORLD
Australia rescues 13 shipwrecked Iranians off Pakistan

UN report sees $1.45 tn global warming cost: media

Corpses still being found in Philippine typhoon zone

Tunisian navy 'rescues 98 sub-Saharan migrants'

WATER WORLD
3-D printer creates transformative device for heart treatment

New formula to calculate hue improves accuracy of color analysis

Game play remains at heart of changing lifestyles

Science publisher fooled by gibberish papers

WATER WORLD
Global warming felt to deepest reaches of ocean

Marine algae can sense the rainbow

We want to save water, but do we know how?

The surface of the sea is a sink for nitrogen oxides at night

WATER WORLD
Alaska mine could be blocked to save salmon fisheries

Ancestors of America's original people lived on long-gone land bridge

Native Americans lived in Bering Strait for millennia: study

Study projects big thaw for Antarctic sea ice

WATER WORLD
Homogeneity of food has serious implications for farming and nutrition

Bison ready for new pastures?

Cows are smarter when raised in pairs

New invasive species breakthrough sparks interest around the world

WATER WORLD
European flood risk could double by 2050

Flood cost in EU may double by 2050: study

Volcanoes, including Mount Hood in the US, can quickly become active

What has happened to the tsunami debris from Japan?

WATER WORLD
Fighting breaks out in South Sudan army barracks

UN extends easing of Somalia weapons embargo

Little hope for C.Africa Muslims ahead of French president visit

Kenya boosts airport defence, warning of Islamist threat

WATER WORLD
Cambodia's floating villages face uncertain future

Research reveals first glimpse of brain circuit that helps experience to shape perception

Baylor Sheds New Light on the Habitat of Early Apes

Oldest fortified settlement in North America discovered in Georgia




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.