Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Turtle migration driven by hatchling drift experience

By Jonathan AmosScience correspondent, BBC News

Why do turtles migrate to the places they do? What is it that tells them where to swim as adults?

New research is providing some insight, suggesting the animals' experiences as little hatchlings adrift in ocean currents have a huge influence.

Scientists combined all the available satellite tracking data on adult turtles with models of how the world's sea water moves.

It shows that locations encountered in the earliest years are a powerful draw.

If these foraging sites are favourable and not too distant, the turtles will swim directly back to them as adults, time and time again.

If they are not suitable locations, the adults may simply not undertake migrations and just feed in the open ocean.

"The kind of information we're acquiring is important for designing effective conservation strategies," said Dr Rebecca Scott, who led the study soon to be reported in the journal Ecology.

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