Sea turtles hatchlings go straight to the ocean after hatching. They will return to coastal waters as juveniles to forage. Not much is known about the years in between these two events, which is why this period has been dubbed the “lost years”. One thing that is known is that when the hatchlings first reach the surf they swim out to open waters for several days on end during what is called the juvenile frenzy. One of the ways this was demonstrated in the 1970s was by having good swimmers follow the hatchlings out at sea. It is thought that after a certain amount of time, the great oceanic currents catch the hatchlings. New research carried out recently in Boa Vista, Cape Verde, confirms this hypothesis. The researchers followed hatchlings with a boat for up to eight hours and up to 15 km out at sea using acoustic nano-tags. Dr Rebecca Scott, the lead author of the study reports that “for years, people have always spoken about hatchlings being swept away in the currents, but this is really the first good, direct evidence for that happening.” The results of this study are valuable to help better understand the biology of sea turtles and to get more information about the “lost years”. This, in turn, will be vital to develop more efficient conservation policies to protect this endangered species.
Video courtesy of the New York Times – http://nyti.ms/1tyjsF1
I am back home. My month of fieldwork was very productive. After a year of analysing data in the office, it was great to spend time out in the field again. I saw many turtles, released countless hatchlings, and set up important experiments. The data I collected will further consolidate my research about climate change and sea turtle conservation.
On this blog I will keep you updated about my research. I still have a lot of stories, pictures, and videos to share. If you have questions about my fieldwork, my research, or about sea turtles in general, please get in touch. I am more than happy to answer your questions!
I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone that made my fieldwork possible and so enjoyable. First, I want to thank the Alasdair Downes Marine Conservation Fund and the Society for Experimental Biology for the funding that allowed me to carry out my research. I also want to thank everyone from SOS Tartarugas, particularly Jacquie, Neal, Berta, and Albert for their unconditional help and support for my work and research. I wish to thank all the SOS rangers, monitors, and volunteers that helped with my data collection. Special thanks goes out to Genaye and Marcos for their help with my experiments. Finally, thank you all for reading my posts, it was a pleasure to share my work with you!
Thank you to the 2014 team!
(photo courtesy of Jacquie Cozens)
It happened again: a nest in the hatchery emerged during the late afternoon! This is a rare occurrence as hatchlings usually emerge from their nest during the night.
Shortly after we finished two nest excavations in the hatchery, there was movement at the surface of a nearby nest. The sand was moving as if magically. Then, a little turtle popped his head out of the sand. He was soon followed by another, and then another. 62 little turtle hatchlings soon emerged from the sand and scattered out of the nest.
We collected all the hatchlings and brought them to the beach. We released them at the top of the beach and watched them all run energetically towards the sea. It was a really fun sight!
I made it! I am in Cape Verde!
The past couple of days have been very hectic. I have been meeting the people from the project, planning my experiments, acclimating myself to the hot African weather… but I am all set now: I have everything I need for my research, a working internet connection for my blog, and an overwhelming desire to go out on the beach and see the turtles!
Tonight I will go on patrol for the first time. Hopefully I will see my first turtle of the season! If it all goes well, I will tell you all about it tomorrow.
In the meantime, please read about the project I am working with on my newly updated page. This will give you a good idea of the conservation work I will be doing here!