The researchers used satellite data to show that turtles that have been rehabilitated in places like Florida and the Cape Verde Islands could be returned to their territorial waters across Europe. Younger people are particularly at risk of being stranded.
“The stranded turtles that were followed by swimming westward probably to their birth houses, after their rescue and release from the Atlantic coast of France, were older and more developed than those that remained in the region of France. Bay of Biscay, ”explained the study’s first author, Dr Philippine. Chambault.
“The turtles that remained in the area were much smaller, possibly trapped in the winter, as they are not able to regulate their body temperature and become lethargic as the sea temperatures drop.”
According to study co-author Florence Dell’Amico, this new idea is valuable in informing conservation strategies.
“These findings have important implications for turtle conservation,” Dell’Amico said. “Maps of their ecological range need to be updated, and the results of this study can help plan effective rehabilitation and release strategies for turtles rescued from this area. “
To see where the turtles were going, the researchers deployed miniature satellite transmitters attached to the shells of rescued turtles. The team also looked at ocean currents, water temperature, abundance of turtle prey species, and turtle mass and size.
The results suggest that the turtles could visit certain areas off the French coast to look for food. While larger turtles can withstand colder temperatures in winter, smaller turtles tend to be trapped and suffer from hypothermia.
“The waters of the Bay of Biscay are particularly cold in winter, less than 10 ° C, and this area is therefore assumed to be outside the geographical range of the turtles,” said the co-author of the study, Dr Philippe Gaspar.
“Our observations suggest that although turtles might visit this area to look for food, it can be an ecological trap for very small turtles which can suffer from hypothermia during the cold months. “
“A turtle’s body temperature is largely controlled by the temperature of the environment, and temperatures below 10 ° C are often fatal. “
This research lays the foundation for further studies as well as conservation planning for marine turtles around the world. The study is published in the journal Frontiers in marine sciences.
–Through Zach Fitzner, Terre.com Editor-in-chief