Curing sick green turtles, new research


This is a 2010 video about green turtles from the BBC’s Life in Cold Blood documentary series.

From James Cook University in Australia:

Good viruses and bad bacteria: A world-first green sea turtle trial

June 19, 2019

Summary: A world-first study has found an alternative to antibiotics for treating bacterial infections in green sea turtles.

Researchers at the JCU Turtle Health Research Facility have conducted a first-of-its-kind study using what’s known as phage therapy as an option for bacterial infections in green sea turtles.

Phage therapy uses so-called ‘good viruses’ (bacteriophages) that occur naturally in the environment and kill bacteria.

Green turtles rely on ‘good bacteria’ in their gut to extract nutrients from food,” said Dr Robert Kinobe, one of the researchers involved in the study.

“This creates a challenge when it comes to treating bacterial infections because if we administer antibiotics, it can destroy the ‘good bacteria’ and make the turtle’s health worse.”

Researchers at the JCU Turtle Health Research Facility applied ‘good viruses’ to green sea turtles and found that it was successful in eliminating the targeted ‘bad bacteria’ without hampering the non-targeted ‘good bacteria’.

“This shows that phage therapy can be safe and effective enough to manipulate or treat targeted bacteria in green sea turtles,” said Dr Kinobe.

A further complication, previously identified by the JCU Turtle Health Research Facility, is the existence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the guts of green sea turtles, which are found in several locations along the Queensland coast.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most critical issues we face, which is why this finding of an alternative to antibiotics is so important,” said co-author Dr Lisa Elliott.

“Bacteriophages and phage therapy have already been suggested as an alternative for antibiotics in humans, but we also need to investigate its scope for treatment in animals.”

The research has been published in the Journal of Environmental Microbiology and opens the door for future applications of phage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics in treating bacterial infections in turtles and other marine animals.

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Sea turtles in Costa Rica, video


This 23 May 2019 video says about itself:

Sea Turtles Nesting in Costa Rica – 360 | National Geographic

Several times a year, thousands of sea turtles make their way to this beach in Ostional Wildlife Refuge to lay their eggs.

Good Pacific green turtle news


This 30 December 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

Tracking Green Turtles in the Great Barrier Reef | Fearless Adventures with Jack Randall

Jack dives into the Great Barrier Reef to wrangle Green Sea Turtles for wildlife conservation and study.

From PLOS:

Immense Pacific coral reef survey shows green sea turtle populations increasing

First comprehensive in-water survey shows key role of ocean temperature and human protection

April 24, 2019

Densities of endangered green turtles are increasing in Pacific coral reefs, according to the first comprehensive in-water survey of turtle populations in the Pacific. The study, by Sarah Becker of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and colleagues, publishes April 24 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Coral-dwelling sea turtles have long been endangered due largely to human exploitation — hawksbills for tortoiseshell and green turtles for food — and destruction of coral reef habitat, but the institution of global protection efforts beginning in the 1970s aimed to reverse this decline. Land-based surveys of breeding and nesting sites have provided important evidence of population sizes, but are limited in scope and without confirmation from the ocean where the turtles spend the vast majority of their time.

To more fully understand the density of the populations of these two turtle species, as well as the environmental and anthropogenic factors that have driven them, the authors combined data from 13 years of in-water visual surveys of turtle abundance near 53 islands, atolls, and reefs throughout the U.S. Pacific. During a survey, a slow-moving boat tows a pair of divers at about 15 meters below the surface, where they record details of habitat and sea life as it comes into view. In all, the surveys covered more than 7,300 linear kilometers and observed more than 3,400 turtles of the two species.

Survey data showed that American Samoa had the highest density of hawksbills, while the Pacific Remote Islands Area, a mostly uninhabited region about a thousand miles southwest of Hawaii, had the most green turtles. Hawksbill numbers were far lower (< 10%) than green turtle counts, indicating that many conservation threats still exist for this species. Density of green turtles were driven primarily by ocean temperatures and productivity, but suggested effects from historical and present-day human impacts. Over the survey period, green turtle populations were either stable or increased. The lowest density but the highest annual population growth was found in the Hawaiian Islands, suggesting that protective regulations may be paying off in allowing green turtle populations to rebound.

Becker adds: “This study represents one of the largest sea turtle population surveys ever conducted, filling critical gaps on in-water abundance and drivers of population density. Across the tropical Pacific several locations held impressive densities of sea turtles, and in all regions densities were driven by bottom-up forces like ocean temperatures and productivity and top-down forces such as human impacts.”

Galapogos giant tortoises and climate change


This 23 March 2019 video says about itself:

Tracking Giant Galapagos Tortoises | BBC Earth

From the Ecological Society of America:

Giant tortoises migrate unpredictably in the face of climate change

Unlike many migratory species, Galapagos giant tortoises do not use current environmental conditions to time their seasonal migration

April 18, 2019

Summary: Researchers use GPS to track the timing and patterns of giant tortoise migration over multiple years. The tortoises often take the same migration routes over many years in order to find optimal food quality and temperatures. The timing of this migration is essential for keeping their energy levels high, and climate change could disrupt a tortoise’s ability to migrate at the right time.

Galapagos giant tortoises, sometimes called Gardeners of the Galapagos, are creatures of habit. In the cool dry season, the highlands of the volcano slopes are engulfed in cloud which allows the vegetation to grow despite the lack of rain. On the lower slopes, however, there is no thick fog layer, and vegetation is not available year round. Adult tortoises thus spend the dry season in the higher regions, and trek back to the lower, relatively warmer zones where there is abundant, nutritious vegetation when the rainy season begins.

The tortoises often take the same migration routes over many years in order to find optimal food quality and temperatures. The timing of this migration is essential for keeping their energy levels high, and climate change could disrupt a tortoise’s ability to migrate at the right time.

In the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecology, researchers use GPS to track the timing and patterns of tortoise migration over multiple years.

“We had three main goals in the study,” says Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau, lead author of the paper. “One was determining if tortoises adjust their timing of migration to current environmental conditions. Two, if so, what clues do they use to adjust the timing, and, three, what are the energetic consequences of migration mis-timing for tortoises?”

The researchers expected the migrations to be timed with current food and temperature conditions because many other migratory species operate that way. Bastille-Rousseau says “many animals, such as ungulates, can track current environmental conditions and migrate accordingly — what researchers sometime refer to as surfing the green-wave.”

Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, however, migration is weakly associated with current conditions such as fog, rain, and temperature. For instance, if it is unseasonably arid, it appears the tortoises do not take that variation into account when deciding it is time to migrate. It is unclear at this point whether they are basing their migration decisions on memories of past conditions or if they are simply incorrectly assessing current local conditions.

Bastille-Rousseau says the team is surprised by the mismatch, stating “tortoise timing of migration fluctuated a lot among years, often by over two months. This indicates that migration for tortoises may not just be about foraging opportunities. For example, female tortoises have to make decisions related to nesting, and we still have a lot to learn about migration in giant tortoises.”

Fortunately, this sub-optimal timing may not yet have critical impact on tortoise health. Potentially due to their long lives of up to 100 years and large body size, bad timing of migration has smaller consequences for giant tortoises compared to small, short lived animals. Giant tortoises can go up to a year without eating and survive, while other migrating species must eat more regularly to sustain their energy levels.

Giant tortoises are important ecosystem engineers in the Galapagos, responsible for long-distance seed dispersal, and their migration is key for many tree and plant species’ survival. How the tortoises’ variation in migration timing will affect the rest of the ecosystem is still unclear. Because tortoises do not seem to be tracking annual variation in environmental conditions, it is quite possible that the mistiming of migration will keep increasing in the future.

“One concern is that at some point in the future,” Bastille-Rousseau adds, “migration may not be an optimal strategy for tortoises. There may be a reduction in the number of individuals doing these long-distance movements. This would likely have cascading consequences for the whole ecosystem.”

THE CLIMATE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT The last five years were the five hottest on record. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has soared past 410 parts per million. As many as 150 species die off each day. As the call for action grows louder, the youth climate movement ― which scientists say has moved the needle on action to address the climate emergency ― is taking center stage. [HuffPost]

HAWAII BEACHES MAY SOON BE UNDERWATER Hawaii’s iconic Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater as rising sea levels caused by climate change overtake its white sand beaches and bustling city streets. State lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that would spend millions for a coastline protection program. [AP]

A new Stanford University study shows global warming has increased economic inequality since the 1960s. Temperature changes caused by growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere have enriched cool countries like Norway and Sweden, while dragging down economic growth in warm countries such as India and Nigeria: here.

Sea turtles video


This 15 February 2019 video says about itself:

Sea Turtles 101 | National Geographic

Sea turtles have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. Find out about the ancient mariners’ oldest known ancestor, how certain adaptations may have helped the reptiles survive, and the conservation efforts being made to save these creatures.