Lawsuit Could Save Thousands of Sea Turtles

by Amanda Keledjian

On March 1, the sea-turtle nesting season officially began in Florida, with the wondrous appearance of leatherback sea turtles returning to lay their eggs. Later this spring, loggerhead and green sea-turtles will follow suit, flocking to Florida’s beaches in large numbers. The state is an important destination for these marine reptiles; of the seven different sea-turtle species in the world, five call these warm waters home at some point during their migrations. In fact, Florida’s beaches host more nesting turtles than any other state.

Driven by an incredible instinct to return to the same beaches where they themselves were born, these turtles might not know that they are swimming into waters used by shrimp trawlers, one of sea turtles’ most dangerous and deadly obstacles.

Shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. southeast Atlantic kill or injure an estimated 53,000 sea turtles — every year — as the ships tow huge nets the width of football fields slowly through the water, trapping almost everything in their wake.

These nets pose a significant danger to the sea turtles, a vulnerable population. Sadly, all five sea-turtle species are considered threatened or endangered with extinction in the United States. This is why, last month, Oceana and three other groups filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. federal government, urging it to accurately analyze the impacts of shrimp trawls on sea turtles…

(read more: Live Science)

photos:  Projeto Tamar Brazil/ Marine Photobank and NOAA

Where Do Baby Turtles Go During Their Lost Years?
by Ed Yong
Every sea turtle begins life in the same way. It hatches within its buried nest, forces its way to the surface, and sprints towards the water past a gauntlet of crabs, birds and other predators. Many die, but they emerge in such numbers that there are plenty of survivors. They dive beneath the waves… and disappear.
By the time Atlantic loggerhead turtles start showing up in coastal waters again, they’ve grown from palm-sized infants into large animals whose shells are a couple of feet long. They must have been away for several years, but their movements are secrets withheld by the vastness of the ocean. We know the beaches that the baby turtles hatch from and many of the sites where adults go to feed and breed, but their biographies are missing the all-important childhood chapters.
“It is easy to walk along a beach, counting nesting females or successful hatchlings,” says Katherine Mansfield from the University of Central Florida, who has studied turtles for over 20 years. “It is much harder to survey an entire ocean basin.”…
(read more: Not Exactly Rocket Science - Nat Geo)
photo: Loggerhead Sea Turtle, by Brian Gratwicke

Where Do Baby Turtles Go During Their Lost Years?

by Ed Yong

Every sea turtle begins life in the same way. It hatches within its buried nest, forces its way to the surface, and sprints towards the water past a gauntlet of crabs, birds and other predators. Many die, but they emerge in such numbers that there are plenty of survivors. They dive beneath the waves… and disappear.

By the time Atlantic loggerhead turtles start showing up in coastal waters again, they’ve grown from palm-sized infants into large animals whose shells are a couple of feet long. They must have been away for several years, but their movements are secrets withheld by the vastness of the ocean. We know the beaches that the baby turtles hatch from and many of the sites where adults go to feed and breed, but their biographies are missing the all-important childhood chapters.

“It is easy to walk along a beach, counting nesting females or successful hatchlings,” says Katherine Mansfield from the University of Central Florida, who has studied turtles for over 20 years. “It is much harder to survey an entire ocean basin.”…

(read more: Not Exactly Rocket Science - Nat Geo)

photo: Loggerhead Sea Turtle, by Brian Gratwicke

The nesting season for sea turtles began in the U.S. on March 1
Leatherbacks are the first to lay eggs along Florida’s Atlantic coast, followed by loggerheads and green sea turtles, pictured here, later this spring. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of several wildlife refuges where the endangered green sea turtle (pictured) is found: 
http://1.usa.gov/1a6OawB
See recent CBS News story: http://cbsn.ws/1f7ik32
Photo by Caroline S. Rogers, USGS
(via: USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System)

The nesting season for sea turtles began in the U.S. on March 1

Leatherbacks are the first to lay eggs along Florida’s Atlantic coast, followed by loggerheads and green sea turtles, pictured here, later this spring. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of several wildlife refuges where the endangered green sea turtle (pictured) is found:

http://1.usa.gov/1a6OawB

See recent CBS News story: http://cbsn.ws/1f7ik32

Photo by Caroline S. Rogers, USGS

(via: USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System)

Sea Turtle Rescue in Florida
A boater saw a loggerhead turtle floating abnormally with the left side substantially more buoyant than the right, preventing it from staying submerged for extended periods. The concerned boater called us and remained with the turtle until our officers could arrive. FWC sea turtle biologists rescued the loggerhead from the Intracoastal Waterway in southern Martin County with substantial assistance from the officers. Loggerheads are among the larger sea turtles; adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. We hope the rescued reptile will be released after successful rehabilitation!  Please report stranded, injured or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or ‪#‎FWC‬ or *FWC on a cell phone.  Florida residents can help support sea turtle research and response efforts by purchasing a sea turtle license plate at BuyaPlate.com or through a local tax collector.  For more in sea turtles visit: http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/

Sea Turtle Rescue in Florida

A boater saw a loggerhead turtle floating abnormally with the left side substantially more buoyant than the right, preventing it from staying submerged for extended periods. The concerned boater called us and remained with the turtle until our officers could arrive. FWC sea turtle biologists rescued the loggerhead from the Intracoastal Waterway in southern Martin County with substantial assistance from the officers. Loggerheads are among the larger sea turtles; adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. We hope the rescued reptile will be released after successful rehabilitation!

Please report stranded, injured or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or ‪#‎FWC‬ or *FWC on a cell phone.

Florida residents can help support sea turtle research and response efforts by purchasing a sea turtle license plate at BuyaPlate.com or through a local tax collector.

For more in sea turtles visit: http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/

Turtle comeback hampered by cold weather
Scores of the endangered animals stunned or dead
by Harvey Rice
The recent cold weather is taking a toll on endangered green sea turtles, which have reappeared in the Galveston Island region only in the last five years.
At least 184 cold-stunned green turtles have been discovered along the Texas Gulf Coast since Nov. 25, said Donna Shaver, chief of the National Park Service’s sea turtle science and recovery division at Padre Island National Seashore.



At least 30 were found Tuesday by 5:30 p.m. and more were expected. Search teams found 34 Monday and 40 Sunday. Shaver on Tuesday was trying to verify reports of 20 others found dead.
Of the verified total, 164 survived because they were warmed and rehabilitated, which Shaver called “a really high success rate.” She expected the number to rise over the next two days as cold weather continues.
At least six were recovered in the Galveston area and saved from near certain death by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Laboratory at Fort Crockett on Galveston Island. The cold stunning this year is more deadly because of the persistent overcast skies that prevent floating turtles from being kept alive by the warming rays of the sun, said Ben Higgins, sea turtle program manager at the NOAA lab…
(read more: Houston Chronicle)
photo: NOAA

Turtle comeback hampered by cold weather

Scores of the endangered animals stunned or dead

by Harvey Rice

The recent cold weather is taking a toll on endangered green sea turtles, which have reappeared in the Galveston Island region only in the last five years.

At least 184 cold-stunned green turtles have been discovered along the Texas Gulf Coast since Nov. 25, said Donna Shaver, chief of the National Park Service’s sea turtle science and recovery division at Padre Island National Seashore.

At least 30 were found Tuesday by 5:30 p.m. and more were expected. Search teams found 34 Monday and 40 Sunday. Shaver on Tuesday was trying to verify reports of 20 others found dead.

Of the verified total, 164 survived because they were warmed and rehabilitated, which Shaver called “a really high success rate.” She expected the number to rise over the next two days as cold weather continues.

At least six were recovered in the Galveston area and saved from near certain death by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Laboratory at Fort Crockett on Galveston Island. The cold stunning this year is more deadly because of the persistent overcast skies that prevent floating turtles from being kept alive by the warming rays of the sun, said Ben Higgins, sea turtle program manager at the NOAA lab…

(read more: Houston Chronicle)

photo: NOAA

montereybayaquarium

montereybayaquarium:

Can sea turtles fly?

Ours will! The young loggerhead sea turtle that’s been displayed in our Open Sea galleries is winging it back to the North Carolina Aquarium right now and will soon be returned to the wild. If all goes well, a new baby sea turtle wil take its place Friday night!

Follow the journey on Twitter at #TravelingTurtle.

Scroll through this page to see the full history of the TravelingTurtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle No Longer Critically Endangered
by Jeremy Hance
The leatherback sea turtle—the world’s largest turtle and the only member of the genus Dermochelys—received good news today. In an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely endangered—and in rapid decline—in many parts of its range.  The new assessment found that the population of leatherback turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean (along the US and the Caribbean) is on the road to recover due to conservation actions. While scientists aren’t sure how the southeast Atlantic population (mostly in Gabon) is faring, it remains the world’s largest population.  However, the situation in the Pacific is far more bleak. The east Pacific population has dropped by 97 percent in three leatherback generations, while the west Pacific population has fell by 80 percent during the same period…
(read more: MongaBay)
photograph by Guy Marcovaldi

Leatherback Sea Turtle No Longer Critically Endangered

by Jeremy Hance

The leatherback sea turtle—the world’s largest turtle and the only member of the genus Dermochelys—received good news today. In an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely endangered—and in rapid decline—in many parts of its range.

The new assessment found that the population of leatherback turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean (along the US and the Caribbean) is on the road to recover due to conservation actions. While scientists aren’t sure how the southeast Atlantic population (mostly in Gabon) is faring, it remains the world’s largest population.

However, the situation in the Pacific is far more bleak. The east Pacific population has dropped by 97 percent in three leatherback generations, while the west Pacific population has fell by 80 percent during the same period…

(read more: MongaBay)

photograph by Guy Marcovaldi

palaeopedia
paleopedia:

The leatherback sea Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (1761)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : TestudinesSuborder : CryptoriaFamily : DermochelyidaeGenus : DermochelysSpecies : D. coriacea
Holocene/Recent (12 000 - 0 years) Critically endangered
2,2 m long and 700 kg (size)
Oceans worldwide (map)
Leatherbacks have been viewed as unique among reptiles for their ability to maintain high body temperatures using metabolically generated heat, or endothermy. Initial studies on leatherback metabolic rates found leatherbacks had resting metabolisms around three times higher than expected for a reptile of their size…
Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. Individuals have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres. Typical dive durations are between 3 and 8 minutes, with dives of 30–70 minutes occurring infrequently…
Relatives of modern leatherback turtles have existed in some form since the first true sea turtles evolved over 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. The dermochelyids are close relatives of the family Cheloniidae, which contains the other six extant sea turtle species. However, their sister taxon is the extinct family Protostegidae which included other species not having a hard carapace…
(read more)

paleopedia:

The leatherback sea Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (1761)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Testudines
Suborder : Cryptoria
Family : Dermochelyidae
Genus : Dermochelys
Species : D. coriacea

  • Holocene/Recent (12 000 - 0 years) Critically endangered
  • 2,2 m long and 700 kg (size)
  • Oceans worldwide (map)

Leatherbacks have been viewed as unique among reptiles for their ability to maintain high body temperatures using metabolically generated heat, or endothermy. Initial studies on leatherback metabolic rates found leatherbacks had resting metabolisms around three times higher than expected for a reptile of their size…

Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. Individuals have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres. Typical dive durations are between 3 and 8 minutes, with dives of 30–70 minutes occurring infrequently…

Relatives of modern leatherback turtles have existed in some form since the first true sea turtles evolved over 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. The dermochelyids are close relatives of the family Cheloniidae, which contains the other six extant sea turtle species. However, their sister taxon is the extinct family Protostegidae which included other species not having a hard carapace…

(read more)

Longline fisheries in Costa Rica hook tens of thousands of sea turtles every year
by Julia Calderone
Hundreds of kilometers of commercial fishing lines slither along coastal waters in Costa Rica, hooking thousands of mahi-mahi and many other marketable fish. But when scientists scrutinized fishermen’s catch, they were shocked by the staggering number of sea turtles accidentally snagged on the lines.
A study published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology suggests that longline fisheries in Costa Rica unintentionally caught about 700,000 Olive Ridley turtles as bycatch between 1999 and 2010—the second highest catch after mahi-mahi. Other bycatch included silky sharks, pelagic stingrays and Indo-Pacific sailfish…
(read more: MongaBay)
photo: Olive Ridleys, Costa Rica. by Randall Arauz

Longline fisheries in Costa Rica hook tens of thousands of sea turtles every year

by Julia Calderone

Hundreds of kilometers of commercial fishing lines slither along coastal waters in Costa Rica, hooking thousands of mahi-mahi and many other marketable fish. But when scientists scrutinized fishermen’s catch, they were shocked by the staggering number of sea turtles accidentally snagged on the lines.

A study published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology suggests that longline fisheries in Costa Rica unintentionally caught about 700,000 Olive Ridley turtles as bycatch between 1999 and 2010—the second highest catch after mahi-mahi. Other bycatch included silky sharks, pelagic stingrays and Indo-Pacific sailfish…

(read more: MongaBay)

photo: Olive Ridleys, Costa Rica. by Randall Arauz

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Baja California!

During the Cabo Cortés Biological Inventory in Baja California, Mexico, conducted by staff of the Herpetology Dept. at the San Diego Natural History Museum, they got to see the work at the local sea turtle refuge.

They observed newly emerged Pacific Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Nests were spotted, protective fencing was put up, and if necessary, nests were relocated.

(via: SDNHM - Herp. Dept.)

WORK IN CURRENT HERPETOLOGY:
Sea Turtles Smell Nearby Shores
by Cameron Walker
A loggerhead sea turtle’s nose knows land. Sea turtles can migrate across the ocean and back, but while Earth’s magnetic field plays a role in their navigation, researchers have wondered what other tools turtles use to find safe harbor, particularly at smaller scales.
Loggerheads’ (Caretta caretta) olfactory systems can sense airborne odors, including food—could they sniff out nearby shores as well? To find out, researchers piped the scent of either distilled water or mud from North Carolina’s Sage Bay into the air above a juvenile loggerhead at swim in an arena.
Researchers report in this month’s issue of Marine Biology that when the scent of mud was in the air, the 10 turtles spent more time swimming with their heads above the water’s surface, compared with when distilled water was the only perfume…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
photo: Courtney Endres

WORK IN CURRENT HERPETOLOGY:

Sea Turtles Smell Nearby Shores

by Cameron Walker

A loggerhead sea turtle’s nose knows land. Sea turtles can migrate across the ocean and back, but while Earth’s magnetic field plays a role in their navigation, researchers have wondered what other tools turtles use to find safe harbor, particularly at smaller scales.

Loggerheads’ (Caretta caretta) olfactory systems can sense airborne odors, including food—could they sniff out nearby shores as well? To find out, researchers piped the scent of either distilled water or mud from North Carolina’s Sage Bay into the air above a juvenile loggerhead at swim in an arena.

Researchers report in this month’s issue of Marine Biology that when the scent of mud was in the air, the 10 turtles spent more time swimming with their heads above the water’s surface, compared with when distilled water was the only perfume…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

photo: Courtney Endres

Green Sea Turtles
Although largely inhabitants of tropical and subtropical waters, Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) can sometimes be found as far north as the Alaska and Newfoundland coasts. Breeding only takes place in warmer latitudes, however, and adults may swim very long distances between feeding and nesting grounds, often returning to the very same beach where they hatched.
Individuals may not make their first trip to breeding sites until they reach sexual maturity at 20-50 years old; after that, and for the rest of their 80-100 year lifespan, males may make the trip every year, while females tend to return every 2-4 years.
Away from the nesting islands, juvenile turtles typically inhabit deeper waters and feed mainly on invertebrates, while adults prefer lagoons where they typically browse on seagrass. The name Green Sea Turtle refers not to the color of their skin or shell, but rather to the layer of green fat just under their skin.
photo by P.Lindgren, shared on Wikimedia Commons
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Green Sea Turtles

Although largely inhabitants of tropical and subtropical waters, Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) can sometimes be found as far north as the Alaska and Newfoundland coasts. Breeding only takes place in warmer latitudes, however, and adults may swim very long distances between feeding and nesting grounds, often returning to the very same beach where they hatched.

Individuals may not make their first trip to breeding sites until they reach sexual maturity at 20-50 years old; after that, and for the rest of their 80-100 year lifespan, males may make the trip every year, while females tend to return every 2-4 years.

Away from the nesting islands, juvenile turtles typically inhabit deeper waters and feed mainly on invertebrates, while adults prefer lagoons where they typically browse on seagrass. The name Green Sea Turtle refers not to the color of their skin or shell, but rather to the layer of green fat just under their skin.

photo by P.Lindgren, shared on Wikimedia Commons

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

What did you do this weekend? 
Staff at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, in Virginia, USA, were able to watch as the Virginia Stranding team place a transmitter on a recovered loggerhead sea turtle before he was released and swam away. What a spectacular sight! Head to their Facebook page for more images of this endangered turtle.
(via: USFWS Northeast Region)

What did you do this weekend?

Staff at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, in Virginia, USA, were able to watch as the Virginia Stranding team place a transmitter on a recovered loggerhead sea turtle before he was released and swam away. What a spectacular sight! Head to their Facebook page for more images of this endangered turtle.

(via: USFWS Northeast Region)