Freeing loggerhead turtles comes at a priceApril 23, 2012
When loggerhead turtles are accidentally captured by humans, a recovery process follows, the complexity of which varies according to the turtle's injuries. Spanish researchers have analysed the process of reintegrating these animals into the environment and they have discovered that there are changes in the behaviour of the turtles that have a complicated recovery process.
The study, which has been published in Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, involved placing satellite transmitters on the shell of 12 healthy, wild loggerhead turtles' (Caretta caretta), and on 6 more that had spent a few months in a rehabilitation centre in the Balearic Islands.
"The six animals from the centre were seriously affected when they were caught and they had a slow, complicated recovery process" Lluís Cardona, the main author of the study and researcher in the animal biology department in the University of Barcelona (UB) explained to SINC.
Upon being set free, three of the rehabilitated turtles showed changes in behaviour. "One died and the other two did not swim well and were very disorientated" Cardona, who compared their adaptation to the environment of these turtles with the twelve control ones, states.
"We received a signal each time they went up to breathe and from this we can tell what speed they swim at and the route they follow", the researcher comments. One of the most informative parameters regarding the animal's health is the time spent at the water's surface. "Turtles go up to breathe and thermoregulate. The time spent at the surface reflects their buoyancy control" the biologist highlights.
The cost of reintegration
Although the number of animals included in this study is not very high and they need more studies, the results show that when the rehabilitation is complicated, there is a percentage of animals that do not readapt to freedom.
"The underlying question of this project is when it is worthwhile recuperating and treating a turtle" the UB expert asks. At a time of limited resources and for the good of the animal itself, "the scientists have to work with veterinarians in the rehabilitation centres to establish protocols to determine when a turtle should be treated and when not" Cardona says.
The six turtles in the study were rehabilitated in the Balearic Islands by the Aspro-Natura Foundation between 2004 and 2007. Of those, two had been hit by boats, two had throat and stomach injuries from fishing hooks, and the last two had injured their flippers in fishing nets.
"Most of these animals are caught accidentally by fishing hooks or trapped in trawler or trammel nets" the scientist explains. "A smaller percentage collides with boats or gets caught in abandoned nets or plastic".
However, the number of turtles caught by fishing hooks has reduced. "This decrease is due to the fact that fishermen fish at a deeper level at which there are fewer turtles, although they are still researching this final aspect" the biologist points out.
90% of turtles in the Balearic Islands' waters come from the USA. "In this country, the number of nesting females of this species has dropped" Cardona warns.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Related Loggerhead Turtles Current Events and Loggerhead Turtles News Articles
Scientists predict major shifts in Pacific ecosystems by 2100
What if you woke up every day to find that the closest grocery store had moved several miles farther away from your home? Over time, you would have to travel hundreds of extra miles to find essential food for yourself and your family.
New turtle tracking technique may aid efforts to save loggerhead
The old adage "you are what you eat" is helping scientists better understand the threatened loggerhead turtle, which is the primary nester on Central Florida's beaches.
Satellite Tracking Reveals Sea Turtle Feeding Hotspots
Satellite tracking of threatened loggerhead sea turtles has revealed two previously unknown feeding 'hotspots' in the Gulf of Mexico that are providing important habitat for at least three separate populations of the turtles, according to a study published recently in the journal Biological Conservation.
Travel hazards: 2 studies start to map pollutant threats to turtles
In a pair of studies-one recently published online and the other soon-to-be published**- researchers at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML), a government-university collaboration in Charleston, S.C., report that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are consistently showing up in the blood and eggs of loggerhead sea turtles, that the turtles accumulate more of the contaminant chemicals the farther they travel up the Atlantic coast, and that the pollutants may pose a threat to the survival of this endangered species.
Endangered Species Research publishes theme section on biologging science
Biologging - the use of miniaturized electronic tags to track animals in the wild - has revealed previously unknown and suprising behaviors, movements, physiology and environmental preferences of a wide variety of ocean animals.
Remotely Operated Vehicles and Satellite Tags Aid Turtle Studies
Researchers are using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and satellite-linked data loggers to learn more about turtle behavior in commercial fishing areas and to develop new ways to avoid catching turtles in fishing gear.
Loggerhead release to provide vital information to scientific community
Thursday, November 6, 2008, Dr. Kirt Rusenko, Marine Conservationist, and staff from Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton will release two juvenile loggerhead sea turtles raised in captivity into the Indian River Lagoon near Sebastian Inlet.
Small islands given short shrift in assembling archaeological record
Small islands dwarf large ones in archaeological importance, says a University of Florida researcher, who found that people who settled the Caribbean before Christopher Columbus preferred more minute pieces of land because they relied heavily on the sea.
Turtle studies suggest health risks from environmental contaminants
The same chemicals that keep food from sticking to our frying pans and stains from setting in our carpets are damaging the livers and impairing the immune systems of loggerhead turtles-an environmental health impact that also may signal a danger for humans.
Research shows loggerhead sea turtles threatened by small-scale fishing operations
Washington, DC. Ocean Conservancy Scientist, Wallace J. Nichols and University of California-Santa Cruz researcher Hoyt Peckham found surprising results in a recent peer-reviewed loggerhead sea turtle study that Nichols and Peckham conducted over the course of 10 years. The full study will be published on October 17 in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.
More Loggerhead Turtles Current Events and Loggerhead Turtles News Articles