Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas

Date:
April 29, 2013
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a new study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park.

A green sea turtle, sporting a USGS satellite tag, swims the waters of Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA.
Credit: Andrew Crowder , USGS

Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Green turtles are listed as endangered in Florida and threatened throughout the rest of their range, and the habits of green sea turtles after their forays to nest on beaches in the Southeast U.S. have long remained a mystery. Until now, it was not clear whether the turtles made use of existing protected areas, and few details were available as to whether they were suited for supporting the green sea turtle's survival.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers confirmed the turtles' use of the protected areas by tracking nesting turtles with satellite tags and analyzing their movement patterns after they left beaches.

"Our goal was to better understand what types of habitats they used at sea and whether they were in fact putting these designated areas to use. This study not only shows managers that these designated protected areas are already being used by turtles, but provides insight into the types of habitats they use most," said the study's lead author, Kristen Hart, who works as a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Hart's team made the discovery by fitting green sea turtle mothers with satellite tags after they came onto beaches within Dry Tortugas National Park to nest. After tracking their movements and analyzing their time at sea, the team located the areas turtles used between their nesting events and determined where turtles traveled after the nesting season was over.

They found green sea turtles spending much of their time in protected sites within both Dry Tortugas National Park and the surrounding areas of the Florida Keys Marine National Sanctuary.

"We were thrilled to find that these turtles used some areas already under 'protected' status. The ultimate goal is to help managers understand where these endangered turtles are spending their time both during the breeding period and then when they are at feeding areas. Given that worldwide declines in seagrasses -- one of the most important habitats they rely on for food -- has already been documented, this type of data is critical for managers," said Hart.

The team learned about the turtle's habitat needs during the nesting season by using ATRIS, a georeferenced, underwater camera system developed by the USGS to collect over 195,000 seafloor images. Researchers surveyed the areas frequented by turtles within Dry Tortugas National Park by photographing the seafloor in a series of parallel lines totaling 70 kilometers (over 43 miles). Using a habitat map derived from those images, they found that the turtles most commonly used shallow seagrass beds and degraded coral reefs that have been overgrown by a mixed assemblage of other organisms, such as sea fans, sponges, and fire coral.

"Our synergistic approach of combining satellite telemetry data with an extensive habitat map proved to be an effective way to find out exactly what habitats these nesting turtles were using in the Park," said Dave Zawada, a USGS research oceanographer and co-author on the study.

The Dry Tortugas' population made shorter migrations than that typically seen among other green turtle populations around the world; this was only the second published study showing green turtles taking up residence at feeding grounds located quite near their breeding grounds.

"We hope to keep pushing the frontier of what is known about in-water sea turtle habitat use, as this type of scientific information is vital for understanding whether conservation measures are effective," said Hart.

The study, "Habitat use of breeding green turtles Chelonia mydas tagged in Dry Tortugas National Park: Making use of local and regional MPAs," was published this week in the journal Biological Conservation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristen M. Hart, David G. Zawada, Ikuko Fujisaki, Barbara H. Lidz. Habitat use of breeding green turtles Chelonia mydas tagged in Dry Tortugas National Park: Making use of local and regional MPAs. Biological Conservation, 2013; 161: 142 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.03.019

Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154216.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2013, April 29). Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154216.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154216.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins