Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby turtles tagged, charting 4,500 mile journey

The Telegraph (UK) Baby turtles tagged, charting 4,500 mile journey

The 17 swimmers, the youngest sea turtles ever to be satellite tagged by scientists, travelled the same distance as London to Mumbai.

Using data transmitted by the tags they were able to map every movement of the loggerhead turtles, captured from their beach nests in Florida.

The breakthrough was made possible by the scientific team customising tiny nine gram tracker tags normally used for birds.

They made the gadgets waterproof and then glued them to the backs of their turtles, aged four to six months old, before releasing them 10-miles east of Palm Beach.

Jeanette Wyneken, Associate Professor of Biology at Florida Atlantic University and research professor, Kate Mansfield, said they were "excited" by the results.

"Previously we have never known what these young turtles do once they leave their beach nests and swim off into the ocean," said Prof Wyneken.

"It was really exciting but it was important to us that the tags did not stop them from behaving normally.

"Thankfully they acted as if there was nothing attached to there backs at all.

"Seaweed is an important habitat for the turtles and they had no problem moving around it."

The 17 satellite tags cost £32,000 and allowed the animals to be monitored from anywhere on the planet.

"The turtles varied a lot in their movements, more so than we expected" Prof Wyneken added.

"They're likely doing much more than just paddling straight to the deep water and riding the current.

"We're very happy and excited by the results."

Full results are expected to be published later this year.

BLOB: An estimated one million sardines turned up dead in a California marina.

The fish apparently depleted the water of oxygen and suffocated after getting lost in the marina at Redondo Beach, according to officials.

Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz, said sardines are "dumb".

"They get into shallow water and then can't figure out how to get back out and you've got such a concentration in one small area they literally pull the oxygen down until they suffocate," he said.

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