Wednesday, January 29, 2020

20 Things You Didn't Know About Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles live in waters all around the world, except for the planet’s extreme north and south regions, and live as long as 80 years. There are seven species of sea turtles, and six of them — Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Olive Ridley — are on the U.S. Endangered Species list.
The Flatback, found only in the area around Australia, is considered vulnerable by that country. Here are 20 other things you might not know about sea turtles.

1. Hawksbills are named for their jaws
Hawksbill sea turtles have raptorlike jaws to reach hard to get to places in coral reefs. Their favorite food is sponges.

2. Greens go for greens
Adult greens are the only herbivorous sea turtles, eating seagrass and algae.

3. Leatherbacks are adapted for eating soft stuff
Leatherbacks eat jellyfish and other soft-bodied animals and have stiff spines in their throats to help them swallow this slippery prey.

4. Olive Ridleys have Mass nesting parties
Olive Ridley sea turtles practice nesting in large groups, known as arribadas. WThis spectacular event is seen in only five: Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and India. Arribadas can include as many as 200,000 individuals.

5. Nest Temperatures Determines the Sex of Turtle Hatchlings
Warmer temperatures mean more females, cooler ones more males.

6. An old home movie solved a nesting mystery
For decades, scientists had no idea where Kemp's ridley sea turtles nested. Then, at the 1961 meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Austin, Texas, biologists saw a home movie made in 1947 by Andres Herrera. It showed at least 40,000 ridleys nesting on a beach on the northern Gulf coast of Mexico.

7. Kemp's Ridley's are now making their home in Texas
In order to increase their population, a secondary nesting location was created for Kemp's ridley sea turtles on Texas's Padre Island National Seashore.

8. Kemp's Ridley Turtles Suffered in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
According to presentation at the Second International Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium, studies indicate that the number of Kemp's ridley sea turtles at the site of the oil spill suffered because of it.

9. One bycatch problem is mostly solved
Sea turtle mortality in shrimp trawls was once a major problem in the Gulf of Mexico, but the introduction of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on trawl nets starting 20 years ago has drastically reduced the number of sea turtles killed.

10. They can dive very deep, and stay under for long periods
As reptiles, sea turtles breathe air, but they have the ability to remain submerged for hours at a time. Leatherback sea turtles can dive up to 3000 feet deep.

11. They're Long-distance swimmers
Sea turtles have been documented migrating vast distances. One was tracked traveling more than 9000 miles from Baja California to Japan.

12. Dogs can sniff out clandestine nests
While most sea turtle species nest at night, the Kemp’s Ridley nests during the day, when winds quickly blow away the female’s tracks. Some researchers use dogs to sniff out nests.

13. To track hatchlings, scientists use manicure supplies
Scientists study the early stages of sea turtle life using neoprene-silicone attachment on an acrylic basecoat — just like that used for fake fingernails — kept tags on for an average of 70 days, long enough to track early behaviors.

14. Scientists pulled off a great egg evacuation
After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists launched a massive relocation effort, moving 28,000 eggs between June 25 and August 18 to Kennedy Space Center on Florida's east coast. The rescue succeeded; in July, August and September, 14,000 hatchlings—mostly loggerheads—were released into the Atlantic Ocean.

15. Sea turtles are still threatened by poaching
Poaching remains a significant threat to sea turtles around the world.

16. Turtles get tumors
Fibropapillomatosis is a chronic and often lethal tumor-forming disease in sea turtles. Recent research suggests that FP occurs more frequently in green sea turtles that forage in waters subject to an increase in organic matter that leads to algal blooms.

17. They eat a lot of plastic
Recent studies show that leatherback and green sea turtles are at the greatest risk of becoming sick or dying from eating plastic.

18. Another bycatch problem might be solved
Small-scale coastal fisheries accidentally catch significant numbers of sea turtles, injuring or drowning them. But changing the type of bait or using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes can reduce the chances of capture, according to a recent study.

19. Volunteers help save them
Sea turtle conservation projects around the world rely on volunteers to help patrol nesting beaches, move eggs into protected corrals, and monitor the release of hatchlings.

20. Turtles have a compass in the brain
A female sea turtles returns to the beach where she hatched when it is time to lay her own eggs.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

How to Hypnotize a Turtle

Scientists use this tricky technique to hypnotize small turtles in order to weigh them when young!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtles are on the international endangered species list. The Tybee Sea Turtle Project is a conservancy group made up of volunteers at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center to protect these magnificent marine creatures.

Learn more here.