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Sea Turtle Tracking

March 10, 2014

Scientists are using satellites to track the mysterious migrations of young sea turtles.



Satellites for sea turtles. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.


Loggerhead turtle with satellite tag (Jim Abernethy/NMFS Permit 1551)

Sea turtle populations are in peril around the world. In order to better protect them, marine biologist Kate Mansfield of the University of Central Florida wants to understand where young turtles go once they leave the nest.

KATE MANSFIELD (University of Central Florida):

Very little is known about the early life history of sea turtles. They’re highly migratory animals and it’s difficult to study them when they’re in the open ocean.


So she and her colleagues attached solar powered satellite tracking devices to the shells of 17 young loggerhead turtles and released them off the Florida coast. They thought the turtles would circumnavigate the Atlantic gulfstream, but instead, found that some of the youngsters headed for the Sargasso Sea, an area in the middle of the ocean with many floating plants. Mansfield says sunning themselves on top of the plants may help the cold-blooded turtles survive during this critical developmental stage. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Young satellite tagged loggerhead turtle released in the gulfstream off the southeast Florida coast. (JimAbernethy/NMFS Permit 1551)

Young satellite tagged loggerhead turtle released in the gulf stream off the southeast Florida coast. (Jim Abernethy/NMFS Permit 1551)