From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in the USA:
Sea turtle nests in South Florida hit 10-year high
Thousands of loggerhead turtles nested in Broward and Palm Beach counties in 2010 but ran into problems on land
By David Fleshler, Sun Sentinel
5:15 p.m. EST, January 30, 2011
Sea turtles nested in the highest numbers in 10 years in South Florida this season, a hopeful sign for the giant reptiles that must evade sharks, shrimp nets, cargo ships and commercial fishing lines to lay eggs on the region’s beaches.
But hazards on land — both natural and human — wasted the efforts of many female turtles to continue this ancient reproductive ritual. The unusually hot, dry weather of early summer led to many nest failures, either by causing the dry sand to cave in or by ruining the eggs with heat. And city lights continued to disorient many hatchlings, causing them to crawl inland, where they got caught in storm drains, run over in parking lots or became prey for birds and raccoons.
Loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles dug 2,565 nests in Broward County in 2010, representing an increase of 641 from the previous year, with the highest density found in Hillsboro Beach, followed by Pompano Beach. In Palm Beach County, final figures are not in yet. But reports in the north of the county, from Lake Worth through Jupiter, show sea turtles dug an impressive 16,073 nests, reversing a long decline in nesting, with loggerheads accounting for the majority of nests, said Paul Davis, the county’s sea turtle coordinator.
“We’re expecting the final count of loggerheads to be similar to 10 years ago, when nesting was at a peak,” Davis said. “That’s promising, but it’s going to take several good years to turn it around.”
Florida is particularly important for loggerhead turtles, which weigh an average of 275 pounds, travel thousands of miles in the course of a year and feed on jellyfish, squid, clams, crabs, corals and sponges. Florida and the nation of Oman on the Arabian peninsula account for 80 percent of the nests.
No one knows why nesting rebounded after years of stagnation and decline. Conservation efforts have required some shrimp boats to install devices to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in nets. And state and local governments have taken steps to reduce beach lights, which disrupt nesting. But biologists say it would be difficult to attribute a one-year peak to recent conservation work.
“Because turtles take so long to reach sexual maturity and reproduce for so many years, it’s way too soon to tell,” said Anne Meylan, a biologist with the research arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
But despite a sharp increase in the number of nests in Broward County, there was a 14.9 percent drop in the live hatchlings. Biologists blame the unusually hot, dry weather of early summer. Female turtles have a difficult time digging nests in dry sand, which continues flowing back into the hole they’re trying to dig. And the increased heat prevents many eggs from developing and hatching.
A similar problem was reported in Palm Beach County. “Close to 200 of our nests didn’t hatch half their eggs because they literally cooked,” said Kirt Rusenko, marine conservationist at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, who supervises sea turtle protection in the area. “And it was too dry for females to lay eggs.”
Meanwhile, the hazard of artificial lights on shore caused heavy casualties among hatchlings. In Palm Beach County, where artificial lights along beaches have been strictly limited, the culprit is sky glow, the reflection on the sky of inland lights, said Davis, the county’s sea turtle coordinator.
In 2010 there were a record-breaking 436 incidents in which turtles were disoriented by lights, events that can be detected by tracks in the sand and the discovery of hatchlings in parking lots and other places they don’t belong. These incidents involved 11,478 hatchlings and 46 adults, according to preliminary figures.
The widespread practice of trimming sea grape bushes along the beach has worsened the problem by exposing beaches to light. “It’s been happening for 10 years,” Davis said. “Oceanfront property owners want to be able to see the ocean, and the state has allowed this to happen.”
In Broward County there are more exposed lights on the beach, and there’s a running conflict between conservationists and city authorities over what to do about them.
Richard WhiteCloud, who leads a Broward sea turtle rescue group called Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, said Fort Lauderdale is the hotspot for disorientations, with his group logging 6,418 disoriented hatchlings and 118 confirmed dead. He said the city failed to comply with the law protecting sea turtles from lights by allowing so much construction along the beach in the past few years and failing to rein in the lights that blaze along the beach at night.
Fort Lauderdale spokesman Matt Little said the city has been working hard on education and enforcement to reduce glare during nesting season. Last year the city assigned two code inspectors to the issue, and the city has active enforcement cases against 36 properties, he said.
“Significant progress has been made toward the overall reduction of light emanating from beach properties,” he said.
David Fleshler can be reached at dfleshler@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4535.
U.S. gov’t fails to protect sea turtles, again, leaving loggerheads vulnerable: here.
Hawksbill turtle tracking results from Middle East: here.
September 2011: Critically endangered hawksbill turtles have been discovered living among in-shore mangrove estuaries in Central and South America: here.
Unprecedented hawksbill nesting activity in northwest Nicaragua: here.
Green turtle photos: here.
Warm Water and Cool Nests Are Best. How Global Warming Might Influence Hatchling Green Turtle Swimming Performance: here.
Where the Turtles Are: Award-winning Map Reveals Nesting Sites of World’s Green Turtles: here.
How did the green sea turtle get its name? Find out, and learn some secrets about how we care for these gentle giants: here.
Thousands of Sea Turtles Die in U.S. Fishing Gear: here.
September 2011: Florida has the worst invasive amphibian and reptile problem in the world – causing appalling damage to native ecosystems. Now, new research from a 20-year study led by a University of Florida researcher, says the pet trade is to blame: here.
Florida’s exotic reptile invasion partly traced to Hollywood dealer: here.
- Green Sea Turtle Nests Hit Record Number In Florida (miami.cbslocal.com)
- First Green Sea Turtle Nest Found At Biscayne National Park (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Green sea turtle nests set record (news-journalonline.com)
Oil spill deadly time for turtles
February 1, 2011, 1:58am
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) – More sea turtles were killed or injured in the Gulf of Mexico in the months following the BP oil spill than in any similar period during the past two decades, a report released Wednesday found.
While the report suggested many of the 600 turtles were hurt by the spill, it’s still not clear exactly how many died from ingesting the crude or how many drowned in fishing nets in the scramble to catch shrimp and fish before the oil ruined them. The sea turtles could have also been killed by cold weather or other factors unrelated to the spill.
The report said the rate of dead, disabled and diseased sea turtles discovered in the months following the massive April 20 spill was four to six times above average. The analysis, by the National Wildlife Federation, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Florida Wildlife Federation, was conservative and only took into account turtles found on shore, not those rescued or recovered at sea.
Researchers with the federal government said it would take years to determine the full impact of the spill on sea turtles. Necropsies have been done on more than half of 600 turtle carcasses, and while some may have died from oil, most of the turtles drowned in fishing gear, said Monica Allen, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association spokeswoman.
Unseasonably cold temperatures last winter were also detrimental to sea turtles, most of which are considered endangered, said Gary Appelson, policy coordinator for the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “Sea turtles have had a tough year,” Appelson said.
Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation and a co-author of the report, said while some of the turtles’ deaths could not be linked to the spill, the much higher-than-usual number indicated the disaster was at least partially responsible.
He said turtles suffered more than other species because their populations are already low and face long odds of reaching adulthood. It takes turtles 10 to 30 years to reach maturity, meaning it could take decades to restore the damage to their population, Inkley said. “Of all the species affected by the oil spill, those for which I have the greatest concern are the sea turtles,” he said.
Wildlife officials undertook Herculean efforts to try to save turtles during the oil spill. All told, hundreds of loggerhead nests containing nearly 15,000 hatchlings were successfully transported and later released along the Atlantic.
Besides urging lawmakers to uphold funding for beach conservation, the report’s authors urged the elimination of subsidies for construction projects along coastlines and the protection of less developed areas of the shore.
More than 90 percent of North American sea turtle nesting happens on Florida’s beaches. Five of the planet’s seven species of sea turtles are found in the state. Four of those – green, hawksbill, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley – are considered endangered, or at risk of becoming extinct. The fourth, loggerheads, is listed as threatened, or likely to become endangered.
Endangered Sea Turtle in recovery
Updated: Feb 06, 2011 8:47 AM
(SAN DIEGO) CA-
Sea World employees in San Diego are doing all they can to save a sea turtle that was shot in the neck.
Workers believe someone shot at the 250-pound-turtle with a shotgun when it poked its head out of the water.
When workers found it… They say the turtle was lethargic and breathing slowly… As well as dehydrated.
A Sea World veterinarian said several of the shotgun pellets will remain in the turtle’s neck because they didn’t hit a major artery and would be more dangerous to remove.
The injured animal is one of only 50 green sea turtles in the San Diego area.
February 20, 2011
Rare leatherback turtle spotted in Indonesia
By Associated Press ,
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Conservationists say they got a rare glimpse of a 6–foot (2–meter) –long leatherback — the world’s most endangered sea turtle — together with dozens of eggs in western Indonesia.
Khairul Amra, a member of a local conservation group, said Thursday that the giant turtle was spotted on a beach on Sumatra island over the weekend just before it plunged into the water.
Soon after 65 eggs thought to belong to the leatherback were found in a nest — the third such discovery on the same beach this year.
Leatherbacks, which can grow up to 9 feet (3 meters) long, have roamed the oceans for 100 million years, but the globe–trotting sea turtles today number only around 30,000.
Their biggest threats are commercial fishing and egg hunters.
How young migrating turtles find their way back home
Researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have finally solved the mystery of how young loggerhead sea turtles find their way back home after a transoceanic migration.
These turtles begin their journey swimming from the Florida coast eastward to the North Atlantic and then gradually migrating over the course of several years before returning again to North American shores.
“One of the great mysteries of animal behavior is how migratory animals can navigate in the open ocean, where there are no visual landmarks,” said Kenneth Lohmann.
“The most difficult part of open-sea navigation is determining longitude or east-west position. It took human navigators centuries to figure out how to determine longitude on their long-distance voyages,” added Nathan Putman.
The team found that the turtles pick up on magnetic signatures that vary across the Earth’s surface in order to determine their position in space-both east-west and north-south-and steer themselves in the right direction.
However, they don’t depend on a single feature of the magnetic field, but on a combination of two: the angle at which the magnetic field lines intersect the Earth and the strength of the magnetic field.
The field lines are parallel to the Earth’s surface near the equator and grow steeper as one reaches the poles. The magnetic field also varies in intensity, being generally strongest near the poles and weakest near the equator.
“Although it is true that an animal capable of detecting only inclination or only intensity would have a hard time determining longitude, loggerhead sea turtles detect both magnetic parameters,” Putman said.
“This means that they can extract more information from the Earth’s field than is initially apparent.”
Because inclination and intensity vary in slightly different directions across the Earth’s surface, particular oceanic regions have distinct magnetic signatures consisting of a unique combination of inclination and intensity.
The findings may have important implications for the turtles, the researchers say.
“This work not only solves a long-standing mystery of animal behavior but may also be useful in sea turtle conservation,” Lohmann said.
“Understanding the sensory cues that turtles rely on to guide their migrations is an important part of safeguarding their environment.”
The discovery may also lead to new approaches in the development of navigational technologies, the researchers added.
The study appears on February 24 in Current Biology. (ANI)
Thanks for very informative article about turtles.
Re #5: thanks. You are welcome. There are more posts about turtles at this blog. Search with search term “turtle”.
Sea turtle’s release to be streamed on the Web
By Patrick Danner
Updated 12:36 p.m., Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Wednesday’s release of the endangered sea turtle nursed back to health with wound-care products made by San Antonio’s Kinetic Concepts Inc. will be streamed live on the Internet.
Andre, a nearly 200-pound green sea turtle, will be released back into the Atlantic Ocean at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Juno Beach, Fla. The event can be viewed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/loggerhead-marinelife-center.
Andre has spent the past 13 months convalescing at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach after he was hit by boat propellers from at least two watercraft off the Florida coast.
KCI’s negative-pressure wound-therapy system — called V.A.C. Therapy — and its tissue-regeneration product — called Strattice — played critical roles in saving Andre’s life and helping in his recovery, those involved with his rescue say.
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