Young loggerhead turtles not going with the flow

August 06, 2014

Juvenile loggerhead turtles swim into oncoming ocean currents, instead of passively drifting with them, according to a study published August 6, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Donald Kobayashi from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and colleagues.

After loggerhead turtle hatchlings leave nesting beaches, they live in the ocean for 7-12 years before migrating to coastal habitats. Juvenile loggerhead turtles have good swimming abilities, but scientists aren't sure if they passively drift in ocean currents or actively swim. Combining turtle movement data with ocean circulation models aids scientists in understanding how juvenile turtles orient themselves in response to a current flow. In this study, scientists compared the daily movement over the course of 13 to 350 days of ~40 juvenile loggerhead turtles tracked by satellite with oceanic circulation data from various sources off New Caledonia.

The authors found that the turtles were swimming against the prevailing current in a statistically significant pattern at a rate of 30 cm/sec, which indicates an ability to detect the current flow and orient themselves to swim into the current flow direction. The authors suggest that the turtles likely use multiple sensory cues that enable them to orient and offset displacement due to wind and ocean currents. Additional factors could be taken into consideration for future studies to provide more information about why this swimming pattern exists, to further explore turtle ecology in ocean currents.

"This study provides evidence that these oceanic stages of loggerhead sea turtles studied with satellite tags do not necessarily get passively transported with ocean currents and, further, provides compelling evidence that these turtles are able to resist such transport using some mechanism not yet fully understood. They are apparently able to detect the direction of current flow and swim against the prevailing current," Dr. Kobayashi added.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103701

Citation: Kobayashi DR, Farman R, Polovina JJ, Parker DM, Rice M, et al. (2014) ''Going with the Flow'' or Not: Evidence of Positive Rheotaxis in Oceanic Juvenile Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in the South Pacific Ocean Using Satellite Tags and Ocean Circulation Data. PLoS ONE 9(8): e103701. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103701

Funding: The funders were base funding and add-on funding from the United States government to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Satellite Articles from Brightsurf:

NASA satellite gives a hello to tropical storm Dolly
During the morning of June 23, the fourth system in the Northern Atlantic Ocean was a subtropical depression.

Observing phytoplankton via satellite
Thanks to a new algorithm, researchers at the AWI can now use satellite data to determine in which parts of the ocean certain types of phytoplankton are dominant.

The Internet of Things by satellite will become increasingly accessible
Thanks to the implementation of advanced random access schemes using efficient, low complexity algorithms.

Satellite broken? Smart satellites to the rescue
The University of Cincinnati is developing robotic networks that can work independently but collaboratively on a common task.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Satellite data exposes looting
Globally archaeological heritage is under threat by looting. The destruction of archaeological sites obliterates the basis for our understanding of ancient cultures and we lose our shared human past.

NASA satellite finds 16W now subtropical
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite found 16W was still being battered by wind shear after transitioning into an extra-tropical cyclone.

How far to go for satellite cloud image forecasting into operation
Simulated satellite cloud images not only have the visualization of cloud imagery, but also can reflect more information about the model.

NASA confirms re-discovered IMAGE satellite
The identity of the satellite re-discovered on Jan. 20, 2018, has been confirmed as NASA's IMAGE satellite.

Satellite keeps an eye on US holiday travel weather
A satellite view of the US on Dec. 22 revealed holiday travelers on both coasts are running into wet weather.

Read More: Satellite News and Satellite Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.