Baby Turtles are actually active swimmers challenging assumption that they drift with ocean currents in their lost yearsCristina Cantor (Author) Published Date : Apr 11, 2015 16:52 ET
A recent study on baby turtles challenges previous assumptions that they have small fins and cannot swim in the currents, so they drift with ocean currents during their ten-year journey toward maturity. Instead, solar-powered tracking devices revealed that baby turtles are actually active swimmers that choose their swimming directions.
Biologists knew that baby turtles used to vanish in their first ten years, which were called their lost years, but they thought that they were spending all this time drifting.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and at the University of Central Florida attached tiny satellite trackers to a group of young Kemp s ridley sea turtles aged 6 to 18 months to have a better understanding of the lives of the young turtle.
Attaching a tracking device to the elusive baby turtles was not an easy task. The researchers sometimes went on a 62-mile voyage only to return empty handed. But other times they were lucky. Some trips there d be a patch of them 10 little turtles all together. But it took a while to get the sample size that was needed, said Dr Nathan Putman, from the NOAA s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.
The satellite tracker is powered by solar energy and they tracked the turtles for two to three months. They also released buoys outfit with similar trackers.
They learned that turtles and the buoys they tracked as a reference point have very different swimming patterns and diverge quickly. The study was conducted to help environmentalists better protect the endangered creatures.
Kate Mansfield, study co-author and director of Central Florida s Marine Turtle Research Group said, What is exciting is that this is the first study to release drifters with small, wild-caught yearling or neonate sea turtles in order to directly test the passive drifter hypothesis in these young turtles, our data show that one hypothesis doesn t, and shouldn t, fit all, and that even a small degree of swimming or active orientation can make a huge difference in the dispersal of these young animals.
This data will help scientist to know where the young turtles spend their early days and also help wildlife conservatives to protect their habitats.
Baby Turtles are actually active swimmers challenging assumption that they drift with ocean currents in their lost years