Scientists Track Sea Turtles' Mysterious Travels for Better Conservation


Photo by spakattacks via Flickr CC

Threatened and endangered sea turtles are getting some extra attention as they migrate around Florida. Green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles are being equipped with cameras to record their movements so that biologists know what they need to do to help protect these species. Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, is a protected area, but it's just a small fraction of the area the turtles use during their lifetimes. However, scientists don't know exactly where these turtles' ranges extend. So, they're mounting cameras to shells and watching. According to Live Science, marine biologists are following Bond, the green turtle shown above, and 27 other tagged sea turtles to learn how to protect these threatened and endangered species. And that includes in the now oil-covered Gulf of Mexico.

For the three species being studied, life consists mainly of time spent out at sea, which means marine protected areas are important to ensuring their survival. Habitat managers will now be able to see where these turtles are going to know what the boundaries of such an area may need to be. Each satellite transmitter - priced at $1,350 - is glued to a turtle's shell. It doesn't impact the animal's ability to hunt or swim, and it can last over a year, thanks to energy efficient batteries -- if they don't get damaged or rubbed off on rocks.

If the researchers find that there are particular areas where turtles tend to hang out for better feeding, it might be an area worth of protecting from humans in order to give the turtles a better shot at survival. However, the data tracking might also help discover how sea turtles are being impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. So far, the news isn't good.
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Tags: Animals | Conservation | Oceans | Turtles

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