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.
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…
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…
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…
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) andOlive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Nests were spotted, protective fencing was put up, and if necessary, nests were relocated.
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.
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.
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.
An assortment of marine animals and birds reside along the black volcanic sand beaches of Guatemala’s Pacific coast, but lately both residents and visitors on the southeast beaches of the country have observed a tragic event – the stranding of dead sea turtles. Eighty dead sea turtles have been recorded since the first week of July…
A teen is winning admirers for a pictorial of how he saved a stranded leatherback sea turtle. Elias Pereira (aka Saile1234), who posted the photos Tuesday on Imgur, wrote that he and his mother were walking along Grande Riviere Beach in Trinidad when he saw the gigantic creature disoriented in a storm-created body of water…
Crowds watch as rescued 300-pound turtle returns to Gulf
by Robert Stanton
Beating some long odds, biologists and volunteers this week returned a 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle to the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX.
The endangered turtle was emaciated when discovered on the island’s West Beach in early June, said Lyndsey Howell, research fishery biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Galveston. It was placed on a regimen of fluids, antibiotics, vitamins and antiparasitic drugs and allowed to recuperate in a tank of clean water.
Turtles that size and condition typically take four to six months to recover, but the nameless loggerhead cut that time in half.
"It’s a success story," Howell said. "We rarely see an animal that big. It’s more challenging to rehabilitate an animal that size and you don’t know what illnesses they’re battling."
At sunset Wednesday, biologists from NOAA and the Houston Zoo were joined by up to 100 onlookers near Fort Crockett Park at 45th Seawall Boulevard. They stood behind yellow tape and watched the giant turtle inch its way to the surf…
Study finds Loggerhead turtles depend on broader range of habitat than previously thought
A new US Geological Survey study suggests that the threatened loggerhead sea turtle may require broader habitat protection during the nesting season.
"This is the first study to locate and quantify in-water habitat use by female loggerheads in the Northern Gulf of Mexico subpopulation during their reproductive periods," said lead author Kristen Hart, a USGS research ecologist. “Our tracking results show they depend on a much broader range of habitat during this critical part of their lives than was previously thought to be required."
The study reveals detailed loggerhead movements during “inter-nesting” periods, showing patterns that vary for individual turtles. Generally, this period begins when a female returns from open seas around May and lasts roughly until September. Up until now, efforts to protect the species generally centered on beaches with high nesting activity under the assumption that once turtles had nested on those beaches, they either remained in their immediate vicinity or migrated back out to sea…
Turtles are weird. The evolutionary requirements of life in a shell made them so. Putting aside the nightmare-inducing sexual organs that chelonian copulation requires, turtles and tortoises are puzzlingly unique among vertebrates in having shoulders anchored inside their ribs. And those are just shared basics. When you get down to species specifics, turtles get stranger still.
Prehistoric forms only add oddities. In their constant sifting of the fossil record, paleontologists are continuing to find bizarre, shell-encased reptiles that deviate from our typical image of what a turtle looks like. The latest, described this week by Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle paleontologist Nathalie Bardet and coauthors in PLoS One, was a suction-feeding giant that sculled the marine waters of prehistoric Morocco about 67 million years ago.
Named Ocepechelon bouyai, the Cretaceous sea turtle is known only from a complete, isolated skull. Not only is the skull from what must have been an enormous reptile, but the shape of the lone fossil is unlike any other turtle. Wide at the back, the 27 and a half inch long skull narrows in front of the eyes into a flattened tube. Ocepechelon didn’t have the short-faced look at modern sea turtles, but an unusual snout that recalls a toothless, beaked crocodile…
Why Female Loggerhead Sea Turtles Always Return to Their Place of Birth
Marine turtles are among the most endangered species of the world ocean. For a better protection of these fascinating animals, scientists try to understand why turtles return to their birthplace in order to reproduce after rather long distance migrations. Using molecular tools applied to turtles from the Cape Verde islands, scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany) found that males and females adopt different strategies: while females are very faithful to their island of birth, males appear less selective and mate at multiple locations.
Furthermore, the study published now in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences demonstrates that females from different islands have different immune genes, suggesting that returning home to reproduce is linked to advantages in parasite resistance. This is the first evidence ever to explain why many migratory animals show this type of behavior.