Young tortoises are attracted to faces


This video says about itself:

Differentiating Mediterranean Tortoises

Featuring the Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata), the Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca) and the Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni). Chris Leone shows how to properly tell one from the other.

From Queen Mary University of London in England:

Tortoise hatchlings are attracted to faces from birth

September 16, 2020

Tortoises are born with a natural preference for faces, according to new research from scientists at Queen Mary University of London, the University of Trento and the Fondazione Museo Civico Rovereto.

The study provides the first evidence of the tendency for solitary animals to approach face-like shapes at the beginning of life, a preference only previously observed in social species such as human babies, chicks and monkeys.

The researchers tested the reactions of hatchlings from five different species of tortoise to different patterned stimuli, made up of a series of blobs. They found that the tortoises consistently moved to areas with the ‘face-like’ configuration — containing three blobs arranged in an upside-down triangle shape.

The findings suggest that this early behaviour likely evolved in the common ancestors of mammals, reptiles and birds more than 300 million years ago.

Dr Elisabetta Versace, lead author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Researchers have previously observed this spontaneous attraction to faces in social animals such as humans, monkeys and chicks. Because all these species require parental care, it was thought this early adaptation was important for helping young animals respond to their parents or other members of the same species. However, now we have shown that this behaviour is also found in solitary tortoise hatchlings, suggesting it may have evolved for another reason.”

Tortoises were hatched and kept away from any animal or human faces from birth until the start of the test. Each animal was then placed in the middle of a rectangular space divided into four areas containing either a face-like or control stimuli. The researchers analysed the preference of hatchlings for face-like stimuli by recording the first area the animal entered during the experimental period.

Unlike birds and mammals, tortoises are solitary species — they have no post-hatching parental care and do not form social groups as adults. Previous research has even shown that tortoise hatchlings ignore or avoid members of the same species in early life.

Silvia Damini from the University of Trento, said: “It is possible that this preference for face-like stimuli enhances learning from living animals in both social and solitary species from the early stages of life. In fact, other animals can provide information on important environmental factors, such as the availability of resources.”

Gionata Stancher, Head of the Tortoise Sanctuary Sperimentarea (Fondazione Museo Civico Rovereto, Italy) where the experiments were conducted, said: “Being able to recognise and respond to cues associated with other living animals could help young animals acquire information vital for their survival.”

Loggerhead turtles and hurricanes


This May 2017 video says about itself:

Loggerhead sea turtle cleaning stations

This is an accompanying video to the scientific article titled “Aerial and underwater surveys reveal temporal variation in cleaning-station use by sea turtles at a temperate breeding area”, by Gail Schofield, Kostas Papafitsoros, Rebecca Haughey and Kostas Katselidis.

The article is available here.

From the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in the USA:

Loggerhead turtles record a passing hurricane

September 1, 2020

Summary: Caught in an Atlantic hurricane, satellite-tagged loggerhead turtles changed their dive behavior and movement patterns as the storm passed. The tags also recorded changes in the environment.

In early June 2011, NOAA Fisheries researchers and colleagues placed satellite tags on 26 loggerhead sea turtles in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The tagging was part of ongoing studies of loggerhead movements and behavior. The Mid-Atlantic Bight, off the U.S. East Coast, is the coastal region from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to southern Massachusetts. A little more than 2 months later, on August 28, Hurricane Irene passed through the area, putting 18 of the tagged turtles in its direct path. The researchers were able to track changes in the turtles’ behavior coinciding with the hurricane, and found that they reacted in various ways.

“Hurricanes are some of the most intense weather events loggerheads in the mid-Atlantic experience, and we thought it was worth investigating how turtles in our dataset may be influenced by these dramatic environmental changes,” said Leah Crowe, a contract field biologist at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and lead author of the study published recently in Movement Ecology. “It was a perfect storm situation in terms of location, timing, and oceanographic conditions. We found that the turtles responded to the changes in their habitat in different ways.”

Satellite tags attached to a turtle’s carapace, or shell, transmitted the turtles’ location and dive behavior. They also recorded sea-surface temperatures and temperature-depth profiles for approximately 13 months. This enabled the researchers to investigate the movements of 18 juvenile and adult-sized loggerhead turtles and associated oceanographic conditions as the hurricane moved through the region.

Most of the turtles moved northward during the hurricane, aligning themselves with the surface currents — perhaps to conserve energy. Researchers observed longer dive durations after the hurricane for turtles that stayed in their pre-storm foraging areas. Some dives lasted an hour or more, compared with less than 30 minutes for a typical dive before the storm.

The turtles that left their foraging areas after the hurricane passed moved south earlier than would be expected, based on their normal seasonal movements. This change was also more than a month earlier than the typical seasonal cooling in the water column, which is also when the foraging season for loggerhead turtles ends in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.

“Loggerheads experience environmental changes in the entire water column from the surface to the bottom, including during extreme weather events,” said Crowe. “This study was an opportunistic look at turtle behavior during a hurricane. Their behavior makes loggerheads good observers of oceanographic conditions where they forage.”

The study was conducted by researchers at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and colleagues at the nearby Coonamessett Farm Foundation in East Falmouth, Massachusetts. The team has tagged more than 200 loggerheads in the Mid-Atlantic Bight since 2009.

This work has created a continuous time-series of data on loggerhead sea turtles. With 10 years of data, researchers can now get a deeper understanding of how turtles behave and what environmental factors drive them. They can also look back at the data and ask new questions, as they did in this study.

Waters in the Mid-Atlantic Bight are highly stratified, or layered, by temperature in the summer. At the surface, water is warm. A cold layer, also called a cold pool, forms beneath this warm layer and is present from May to October. The presence of the cold pool overlaps with the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November. It also overlaps with the presence of foraging loggerheads that are in the area between May and September.

Hurricane modeling is especially difficult in the Mid-Atlantic Bight because of the cold pool. In this study, it was unclear which aspect of the environmental changes prompted behavioral changes. Previous studies have found that loggerhead behavior appears to be sensitive to changes in water temperatures throughout the water column. Hurricanes cause the water layers to mix, which creates cooler surface temperatures. The mixing also disrupts the thermocline — the boundary layer between warm surface waters and colder, deeper waters.

Ocean temperature data recorded by the turtles’ satellite tags are consistent with observations from weather buoys and autonomous gliders operating in the region. Depending on how many tags are deployed, data from tagged turtles can cover a more extensive area within a season than other oceanographic data sources.

More measurements of water temperatures throughout the water column in the region could help improve oceanographic models. Researchers say data from the turtle tags are an underused resource that has the potential to improve weather models, including hurricane models.

Many of the natural and human-induced impacts on sea turtle behavior, or the environments that sea turtles live in, are still unknown.

Previous studies indicate that sounds from dredge operations, seismic activity,offshore wind farm development, and marine recreation may also impact sea turtle distribution and dive behavior. Turtles might be impacted directly or through habitat alterations. While studies have looked at how tropical storms and hurricanes affect some marine species, there are few examples of examining sea turtle interactions with large storms.

In this study, turtle behavior did not return to pre-storm behavior within 2 weeks after the storm.

“The long-term cumulative effects of a changing climate and the increase in intensity of hurricanes and other storms is something that needs to be looked at. Changes in sea turtle movements and behavior can affect abundance estimates and management decisions,” Crowe said. “This study reminds us that turtles live in a dynamic environment, and we cannot assume their behavior will be consistent throughout space and time.”

The study was supported by funds from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species and the New England/Greater Atlantic Region’s Research Set-Aside Program.

United States sea turtle nesting threatened


This 20 July 2013 video from the USA is called Loggerhead sea turtles hatching. Sebastian, Florida.

By Florida State University in the USA:

Coastal development, changing climate threaten sea turtle nesting habitat

August 26, 2020

A research team led by Florida State University found that sea turtles in the U.S. will have less suitable nesting habitat in the future because of climate change and coastal development.

Researchers found areas that will remain or become suitable for sea turtle nesting in the future because of climatic changes and sea-level rise will be exposed to increased coastal development, hindering the ability of turtles to adapt to these disturbances. Their work was published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

“A reduction in available nesting habitat coupled with the pressures associated with coastal development could likely have detrimental impacts on the reproductive output of sea turtle nesting areas in the U.S. and population stability,” said Mariana Fuentes, an assistant professor of oceanography in the FSU Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and the study’s lead author.

The researchers modeled suitability of coastal habitats in the eastern U.S. by 2050 for loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtle nesting, considering predicted sea-level rise and future climates.

The results differ for specific places and species, but the overall picture is one of decreases in suitable nesting grounds and increasing pressure from coastal development.

Loggerhead turtles will see a decrease of about 10 percent in suitable nesting areas, with deteriorating conditions in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. Green turtles will see some improved nesting habitat in southwest Florida, but less suitable habitat elsewhere in the state and the Carolinas. Overall, green turtles will see a decrease of about 7 percent in suitable nesting habitat along the U.S. East Coast. Leatherback turtles won’t see major changes in the broad availability of suitable areas.

A changing climate, rising sea levels and coastal development each play a role in determining the availability of suitable nesting habitats in the future.

Sea turtles need certain climate conditions for egg incubation, and a changing climate will mean different conditions for precipitation and temperature. Sea-level rise is another factor. It is projected to submerge about 80 percent of current habitat that is predicted to have a suitable climate for future egg incubation.

But sea-level rise is also projected to create new beaches. In fact, a 0.5-meter sea-level rise (a conservative estimate) is predicted to result in a net habitat gain for the sea turtle species the researchers studied. However, coastal development will be an issue in most of those areas, which will impact how well they function as nesting sites.

Researchers found a few regions in North Carolina and South Carolina that are projected to have high or very high climate suitability for sea turtle egg incubation, little risk from sea-level rise and no substantial housing growth, which will make them optimal nesting habitats. Identifying these areas could inform management and conservation policies.

In other places where development is expected to add pressure to sea turtles, management strategies, such as turtle-friendly lighting, removing beach debris and not disturbing nesting areas, will help minimize additional impacts of human activity on these animals.

Sea turtles have existed for millions of years, and they have persisted through dramatic changes in climate in the past,” Fuentes said. “They have the ability to adapt to changing conditions, but coastal development and the unprecedented speed of current climate change are things they have never had to deal with, which may hinder their ability to adapt to the future.”

Dinosaur age turtle and its invertebrate guests


This March 2018 video is called The Evolution of Turtles.

From Waseda University in Japan:

Life in a nutshell: New species found in the carapace of late Cretaceous marine turtle

August 25, 2020

Summary: Scientists have identified a new ichnospecies from the shell of an extinct marine turtle fossil, the first known species coexisting on living marine vertebrates.

While paleontologists have a wealth of vertebrate fossils at their disposal, their knowledge of the ecology of ancient extinct species, particularly regarding their relationship with invertebrate species, is relatively poor. As bones and hard shells “fossilize” much better than soft tissues and cartilage, scientists are limited in their ability to infer the presence of parasitic or symbiotic organisms living in or on these ancient vertebrates. As a result, relatively little is known about the evolutionary relationships between these ancient “clades” and their modern descendants.

All hope is not lost, though, as researchers can infer the presence of these small organisms from the footprints they left behind. These records are called trace fossils, or ichnofossils. One clear example of such ichnofossils is the boreholes that many mollusks make in the turtle shell remains and whale and fish bones on the ocean floor. However, to this date, there have been no indications that such species also lived in the shell while the turtle was alive and well.

In their recent study published in the journal Palaios, Assistant Professor Kei Sato from Waseda University and Associate Professor Robert G Jenkins from Kanazawa University focused on the trace evidence left on the carapace (shell) of an extinct basal leatherback marine turtle (Mesodermochelys sp.). The fossil was recovered from an Upper Cretaceous formation in Nio River, Japan, and the evidence in question were 43 tiny, flask-shaped boreholes all over the turtle shell fossil.

Eager to learn more about the organisms responsible for this, the scientists formulated a hypothesis, based on previous borehole evidence found on ancient marine turtle shells. After observing the fossil up close and measuring the morphological characteristics of the boreholes, they produced a 3-dimensional reconstruction of the carapace and the cross-section of one of the boreholes, which allowed them to observe the intricate details left by the species.

Sato, who is the lead author of this study, elaborates on the surprising evidence they found, “We saw that there were signs of healing around the mouth of boreholes, suggesting that the turtle was alive when the organisms settled on the carapace.” Based on the morphology and positioning of the boreholes, they determined that the likely culprits for these boreholes were “bivalves” from the superfamily Pholadoidea, creatures similar to the modern clams. These “sessile” (or immobile) organisms normally require a stable substrate to bore into, and the turtle carapace was a suitable host. The fact that the host animal was swimming around freely probably helped, as this allowed exposure to new environments.

Sato and Jenkins identified the boreholes called Karethraichnus; however, they were unable to match the characteristics of the boreholes they found with those made by any currently described species. This only meant one thing: that they had stumbled onto a completely new species! They have accordingly named this new species as Karethraichnus zaratan.

Sato is excited about the implications of their findings, stating, “This is the first study to report this unique behavior of boring bivalves as a symbiont of living marine vertebrate, which is a significant finding for the paleoecology and evolution of ancient boring bivalve clades.” Previously, no such species had been shown to live on the carapace of living vertebrates. Instead, they were often reported to occur on the remains of marine turtles and other vertebrates, laying on the ocean floor alongside various decomposing organisms. By attaching themselves on a live, free-swimming substrate, such as the carapace of a marine turtle, these pholadoid bivalves may have paved the way for a novel, yet-unknown evolutionary path of accessing previously unexplored niches and diversifying into new species. As the tracemaker bivalves of Karethraichnus zaratan are considered to belong to one of the basal groups for Pholadoidea, this knowledge is crucial for understanding the evolutionary history of extant organisms in this group.

How sea turtles migrate, new research


This 20212 video says about itself:

An educational video by SEE Turtles about sea turtle migrations including leatherbacks and loggerheads. Learn how these amazing animals swim thousands of miles to find food and nesting beaches.

From ScienceDaily:

Sea turtles’ impressive navigation feats rely on surprisingly crude ‘map’

July 16, 2020

Since the time of Charles Darwin, scientists have marveled at sea turtles’ impressive ability to make their way — often over thousands of kilometers — through the open ocean and back to the very places where they themselves hatched years before. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 16 have evidence that the turtles pull off these impressive feats of navigation with only a crude map to guide them on their way, sometimes going far off course before correcting their direction.

“By satellite tracking turtles travelling to small, isolated oceanic islands, we show that turtles do not arrive at their targets with pinpoint accuracy,” says Graeme Hays of Australia’s Deakin University. “While their navigation is not perfect, we showed that turtles can make course corrections in the open ocean when they are heading off-route. These findings support the suggestion, from previous laboratory work, that turtles use a crude true navigation system in the open ocean, possibly using the earth’s geomagnetic field.”

Despite much study of sea turtle navigation, many details were lacking. Hays’ team realized that was in part because most sea turtles return to spots along the mainland coast, which are also the easiest places to find.

For the new study, his team had attached satellite tags to nesting green turtles (Chelonia mydas) out of an interest in learning about the extent of the turtles’ movements and to identify key areas for conservation. In the process, they realized that, by serendipity, many of the tracked turtles travelled to foraging sites on isolated islands or submerged banks. It allowed them to explore in more detail how turtles make their way to such small and harder-to-find islands.

In total, the researchers recorded the tracks of 33 green sea turtles migrating across the open ocean from their nesting beaches on the island of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean) to their foraging grounds across the western Indian Ocean, many of which were isolated island targets. Using individual-based models that incorporated ocean currents, they then compared actual migration tracks against candidate navigational models to show that 28 of the 33 turtles didn’t re-orient themselves daily or at fine-scales.

As a result, the turtles sometimes travelled well out of their way — several hundred kilometers off the direct routes to their goal — before correcting their direction, often in the open ocean. Frequently, they report, turtles did not reach their small island destinations with pinpoint accuracy. Instead, they often overshot and or spent time searching for the target in the final stages of migration.

“We were surprised that turtles had such difficulties in finding their way to small targets,” Hays says. “Often they swam well off course and sometimes they spent many weeks searching for isolated islands.

“We were also surprised at the distance that some turtles migrated. Six tracked turtles travelled more than 4,000 kilometers to the east African coast, from Mozambique in the south, to as far north as Somalia. So, these turtles complete round-trip migrations of more than 8,000 kilometers to and from their nesting beaches in the Chagos Archipelago.”

The findings lend support to the notion that migrating sea turtles use a true navigation system in the open ocean. They also provide some of the best evidence to date that migrating sea turtles have an ability to re-orient themselves in deep waters in the open ocean, the researchers say. This implies that they have and rely on a map sense. But the results also show that their map lacks fine details, allowing them to operate only at a crude level.

As a result of this imperfect navigation system, the turtles reach their destination only imperfectly. In the process, the turtles spend extra energy and time searching for small islands.

The findings also have implications for the turtles’ conservation, Hays says. Turtles travel broadly across the open ocean once nesting season has finished. As a result, he says, “conservation measures need to apply across these spatial scales and across many countries.”

The researchers say that they hope the next generation of tag technology will allow them to directly measure the compass heading of migrating turtles as well as their location. “Then we can directly assess how ocean currents carry turtles off-course and gain further insight into the mechanisms that allow turtles to complete such prodigious feats of navigation,” Hays says.

Galapagos giant tortoises return to their island


This 17 June 2020 video says about itself:

Ecuador: ‘Diego’ the turtle, who sired 800 babies and saved his species, returns home after 87 years

Mandatory Credit: Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador

‘Diego’, the world’s most famous giant tortoise, returned to Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago on Monday after helping breed some 800 turtle hatchlings in captivity, saving his species from extinction.

Diego and 15 other turtles that were part of the project were subjected to a quarantine process and internal deworming. They were then fitted with an identification microchip before leaving Santa Cruz Island on board a boat bound for Espanola Island.

Diego had remained in captivity for decades, helping to multiply the endemic population of giant tortoises from 15 to 2,300, and in so doing becoming recognised as the saviour of his species.

The repopulation project began in the 1960s after experts determined that the population had been reduced to just two males and 12 females.

Florida, USA green turtles’ health research


This July 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Baby Sea Turtles Hatching at the Beach in Jupiter, Florida

It was around 8pm when they hatched and they all made it to the ocean!

From Florida Atlantic University in the USA:

World’s most complete health analysis of nesting sea turtles conducted in Florida

Study provides critical data for sea turtle conservation and population recovery

June 16, 2020

Summary: The most comprehensive health assessment for a green turtle rookery in the world to date is providing critical insights into various aspects of physiology, biology, and herpesvirus epidemiology of this nesting population. Findings are hopeful for this population of green sea turtles in southeastern Florida, offer important data on the profile of health for future comparative investigations, and suggest that viruses are endemically stable in this nesting population.

While it’s only about a 10-kilometer stretch, Juno Beach is home to one of the largest aggregations of nesting green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Florida and is one of the highest-density nesting beaches in the state. Although this high-profile turtle population has routinely been monitored for nest counts since 1989, an in-depth health assessment of these turtles has never been conducted.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Loggerhead Marinelife Center have conducted the most comprehensive health assessment for a green turtle rookery in the world to date. Findings from the study provide critical insights into various aspects of physiology, biology, and herpesvirus epidemiology of this nesting population and are especially timely as the world observes “Sea Turtle Day.”

Results, recently published in the journal Endangered Species Research, are hopeful for this population of green sea turtles in southeastern Florida and offer important data on the profile of health for future comparative investigations.

“Effective conservation measures cannot take place unless the animals we are trying to protect are healthy,” said Annie Page-Karjian, D.V.M., Ph.D., lead author, assistant research professor and clinical veterinarian at FAU’s Harbor Branch. “Chronological and longitudinal studies of biology, physiology, and overall health in both free-ranging and captive populations are critical for supporting large-scale efforts to promote sea turtle population recovery.”

A total of 4,343 green turtle nests were documented on Juno Beach in 2017, which was the busiest nesting year on record for this beach. For the study, researchers collected blood samples from 60 female green turtles that nested on Juno Beach in 2017. They evaluated a broad suite of biological and health data, including measures of reproductive success, morphometrics, hematology, plasma chemistry, plasma protein fractions, haptoglobin, corticosterone, and measures of oxidative stress, antioxidative capacity, and innate immunity. They also tested for two herpesviruses of green turtles, ChHV5 and ChHV6, which are implicated in fibro-papillomatosis (FP) and respiratory and skin disease, respectively. FP is a debilitating disease of sea turtles characterized by neoplastic growths on the skin, shell, and/or internal organs.

Results showed that all 60 turtles included in the study were in good body condition with no external FP tumors. Five of the 60 turtles (8 percent) tested positive for ChHV5 and all turtles were negative for ChHV6. Of the 41 turtles tested for antibodies to ChHV5 and ChHV6, 29 percent and 15 percent tested positive, respectively, and 10 percent tested positive for antibodies to both viruses. Notably, there were no statistically significant differences between health variables for nesting turtles that tested positive for ChHV5 DNA versus those that tested negative; and also no differences between turtles that tested positive for ChHV5 or ChHV6 antibodies and those that did not. Findings from the study suggest that these viruses are endemically stable in Florida’s adult green sea turtles.

Researchers differentiated between previous viral infection versus recent infection/reactivation, and evaluated the results alongside health analytes to understand whether either infection state was associated with detectable physiological changes.

“The fitness of the turtles examined for this study is likely representative of the health of the ecosystems in which they forage and the oceanic corridors through which they migrate,” said Page-Karjian. “As human activities continue to affect sea turtle population recovery, these comprehensive baseline data from our study will provide a valuable resource for evaluating the impacts of various stressors such as habitat degradation on the population over time and will help inform wildlife and environmental policy management.”

Green turtles are the second most common sea turtle species to nest on the coast of Florida, after loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Sea turtles are considered to be sentinel species of environmental health, whereby sea turtle health is thought to reflect the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. Thus, examining sea turtle health is an important component of any coastal ecosystem health survey that includes sea turtle developmental, foraging, and/or nesting habitat(s).

Conservation threats to sea turtles in Florida are numerous, and include habitat encroachment and pollution, illegal harvesting, artificial beach lighting and coastal armoring, and human interactions such as entanglement, hook ingestion, and boat strike trauma. Diseases, including FP, also directly threaten sea turtle conservation.

How loggerhead sea turtles help biodiversity


This november 2019 video is called Facts: The Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

From Florida State University in the USA:

Loggerhead sea turtles host diverse community of miniature organisms

June 1, 2020

There is a world of life on the backs of loggerhead sea turtles, and it’s more abundant and diverse than scientists knew.

An international team led by Florida State University researchers found that more than double the number of organisms than previously observed live on the shells of these oceanic reptiles, raising important questions about loggerhead sea turtle ecology and conservation.

The study was published in the journal Diversity.

“This suggests loggerhead turtles are hotspots for organism abundance and biodiversity,” said Jeroen Ingels, a researcher with the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and lead author of the study. “We suspect that larger organisms that are able to form structures serve as habitats for microscopic creatures and allow for greater levels of abundance and biodiversity.”

Researchers discovered this organism diversity by sampling meiofauna, which are organisms roughly between 1 millimeter and about 0.032 millimeters in size.

The researchers specifically focused on a type of aquatic meiofauna called nematodes, also known as roundworms. Previous research had not considered these tiny creatures when surveying the communities of organisms that live on the backs of loggerhead sea turtles.

“To find nematodes on loggerhead turtle carapaces is no surprise, but when we compared their numbers and diversity to those from other hard surfaces or even on marine plant life, we realized their carapaces abound with this microscopic life, the extent to which had hardly been documented in the past,” Ingels said.

The FSU researchers, together with a team from Brazil led by Professor Giovani dos Santos and Professor Yirina Valdes, sampled the shells from 24 loggerhead turtles that migrated to Florida’s St. George Island in the summer of 2018 to lay eggs.

The researchers examined a forward, middle and posterior section of each shell to see if the different areas had different microscopic communities. To collect their samples, they removed barnacles, then scraped the shells and sponged them down to carefully gather every living creature.

They found thousands of meiofauna organisms. One turtle had more than 146,000 individual organisms living on its carapace. Researchers also found that the posterior section of the shells, closest to the rear flippers, had different communities and a higher diversity of species.

Previous studies of loggerheads had found fewer than 100 different species of any kind living on their shells. By including the nematodes found in this new study, the researchers added at least 111 new species to the list of organisms that can live on the backs of loggerheads. That count doesn’t include other types of meiofauna, meaning the number could be even greater.

The research may help explain a paradox around these miniature creatures: How can the same types of aquatic meiofauna be found in different parts of the world, hundreds or even thousands of miles away? Researchers think they are able to travel large distances on the backs of sea turtles, which could help explain their widespread distribution.

The researchers also found that individual turtles harbor significantly different communities of meiofauna living on their shells.

“Were these turtles colonized by microorganisms in different places?” asked Ingels. “It’s exciting because it means we may be able to infer where loggerheads have been based on the microscopic communities on their shells.”

Tens of thousands of microscopic organisms can colonize loggerhead turtles, which visit remote coasts and beaches during their migration. It makes sense that there would be a connection between the locations frequented by the turtles and the places where the same meiofauna are found, Ingels said. A better understanding of that link could help inform conservation practices for these reptiles.

“Information on key areas used by loggerhead turtles is crucial to inform their management, as it helps identify key threats that they are exposed to,” said Mariana Fuentes, a co-author of the article and assistant professor of oceanography in the FSU Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science.

This research was funded by the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate Grant and the PADI Foundation.

Baby turtles benefit from coronavirus lockdown


This 12 May 2020 video says about itself:

With beaches clear of tourists amid ongoing closures, millions of baby turtles are making their way to the sea 🐢❤️

In US news and current events today, millions of baby Olive Ridley Turtles have hatched on the shore and are making their way back to the ocean in larger numbers than previous years.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted worldwide lockdowns, effectively clearing beaches of tourist foot traffic.

Baby leatherback turtles, video


This 5 May 2020 video says about itself:

Baby Turtles Hatch And Race To The Ocean | VR 360 | Seven Worlds, One Planet

Leatherback sea turtle hatchlings are just emerging from the sand on a desert island beach in the Caribbean. Stay in and explore as they make their way to the sea for the very first time.