World Turtle News, 11/07/2017
Crime-scene technique used to track turtles
Scientists have used satellite tracking and a crime-scene technique to discover an important feeding ground for green turtles in the Mediterranean.
University of Exeter researchers measured “stable isotope ratios” – a chemical signature also used by forensic scientists – to discover which foraging grounds turtles had come from to breed in Cyprus.
They discovered that Lake Bardawil, on Egypt’s north coast, is now the most important foraging ground for turtles which breed at Alagadi in Cyprus.
“Our satellite tracking of turtles breeding in Cyprus has been going on for some years,” said senior author Professor Brendan Godley, director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
“This meant we knew where many of the turtles went to forage for food, but our preliminary analysis using stable isotope ratios showed a major foraging area had been missed.
“A large proportion of turtles had isotope ratios that did not correspond to sites previously identified, and we tracked five of them. Five out of five went to Lake Bardawil.”
Green turtles swim hundreds of miles between feeding and breeding areas, and the research suggests 82 per of females show “extremely high” consistency in isotope ratios – meaning they keep going back to the same places.
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Photo from Silke Baron.