Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings

Date:
May 14, 2014
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
New research has found that adult sea-turtle migrations and their selection of feeding sites are directly influenced by their past experiences as little hatchlings adrift in ocean currents. When they breed, adult sea turtles return to the beach where they were born. After breeding, adult sea turtles typically migrate several hundreds to thousands of kilometres to their feeding habitats. However, there has been little information about how turtles chose their feeding sites.

A green turtle in its coastal feeding ground in the Pacific Ocean.
Credit: Dr. Rebecca Scott

New research has found that adult sea-turtle migrations and their selection of feeding sites are directly influenced by their past experiences as little hatchlings adrift in ocean currents.

When they breed, adult sea turtles return to the beach where they were born.. After breeding, adult sea turtles typically migrate several hundreds to thousands of kilometres to their feeding habitats. However, there has been little information about how turtles chose their feeding sites. For example, some turtles migrate to feeding habitats thousands of kilometres away, while other turtles don't migrate or feed in the open ocean.

The study, which involves the University of Southampton, looked at what habitats the turtles would have experienced as juveniles. New-born hatchling sea turtles are too small to track with satellite tags. However, when they emerge from their eggs, they head to the ocean and drift with ocean currents to their juvenile development habitats. The researchers combined all the available satellite tracking data on adult turtles with models of how the world's sea water moves past nesting sites to study where the hatchling sea turtles drift to.

By comparing global patterns in the migrations of all satellite tracked sea turtles with global hatchling drift patterns, they showed that adult sea turtle migrations and foraging habitat selections were based on their past experiences drifting with ocean currents.

Dr Rebecca Scott, who led the study soon to be reported in the journal Ecology, says: "Hatchlings' swimming abilities are pretty weak, and so they are largely at the mercy of the currents. If they drift to a good site, they seem to imprint on this location, and then later actively go there as an adult; and because they're bigger and stronger they can swim there directly," explained Dr Scott, who is based at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany.

"Conversely, if the hatchlings don't drift to sites that are suitable for adult feeding, you see that reflected in the behaviour of the adults, which either do not migrate or they feed in the open ocean, which is not the normal strategy for most turtle species."

Many animal groups undertake great migrations, and the process of learning where to go on these travels can take several forms. For example, some juvenile whales and birds learn migration routes by following their mothers or more experienced group members, whilst other bird and insect species see to be born with the information or a map sense that informs them where they should migrate.

However, neither of these strategies works for turtles. Once the adult female has laid her eggs on a beach, her involvement in her offspring's development ends. When the hatchlings crawl down the beach into the water, they are on their own; there is no experienced turtle to follow, and they go where the ocean takes them.

Dr Bob Marsh from the University of Southampton, who was Dr Scott's supervisor and co-author of the study, said: "Although it is known that ocean currents have a large influence on the dispersion of small planktonic organisms, these findings reveal ocean currents also directly shape some the migrations of some of the largest, most powerful long distance migrants in the animal kingdom."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rebecca Scott, Robert Marsh, Graeme Hays. Ontogeny of long distance migration. Ecology, 2014; 140425082009005 DOI: 10.1890/13-2164.1

Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514084554.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2014, May 14). Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514084554.htm
University of Southampton. "Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514084554.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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