Turtle Moms 'Talk' to Their Young
Sea Turtle Week is June 16-20, but, hey, you already knew that. To celebrate these wide-ranging swimmers, we take a look at their journey from beach to sea -- and back again. Green turtles (above) are the largest of the hard-shell sea turtles, despite having a small head, and can weigh up to 350 pounds (135-160 kilograms). They can grow to 3 feet in length.30 Days Of The Ocean: Photos
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Every morning during the nesting season for green and loggerhead turtles, ecologists from Israel's Nature and Parks Authority search the Mediterranean coastline for nests. They empty the nests and transplant the fragile eggs to protected hatcheries along the coast. Two months later, removed from man-made obstacles and protected from their natural predators -- crabs, foxes and birds -- the hatchlings enter the sea. Some will return more than 20 years later to the same beach and lay their eggs.PHOTOS: The Surprising World of Sea Squirts
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
A loggerhead turtle hatchling races for the Mediterranean Sea after leaving a protected hatchery in Mikhmoret, north of Netanya, Israel.PHOTOS: Sharks, Marine Mammals Hang in Paradise
Once they hit the water, hatchlings must swim quickly to escape near-shore predators. And curious humans.VIDEO: Octopi Have a Brain in Every Tentacle
Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches to lay their eggs.PHOTOS: Life in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
This map shows the Hawksbill turtles' migration range. The turtles are capable of traveling hundreds to thousands of miles between nesting beaches and foraging areas, which are comparable to migrations of green and loggerhead turtles.NEWS: Strange, Carnivorous Sponge Found In Deep Sea
ASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Kuwait Environment Protection Society get ready to release a green sea turtle. The turtle, 45 years old and weighing 150 kilograms, was rescued from a fishing trap and released after undergoing medical attention. A tracking device was fixed on the turtle's back in order to help study the animal's movement in territorial waters.PHOTOS: Life On The Ocean Floor Garbage Patch
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
At the Miami Seaquarium, kids get a chance to touch one of two loggerhead sea turtles that are prepared to be released back into the wild at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park after undergoing rehabilitation.NEWS: Huge North Sea Plankton Bloom Seen From Space
There are seven worldwide species of sea turtle, with six of those found in the United States. Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, due to threats from marine debris, bycatch, destruction of their habitat and boat strikes.PHOTOS: Lost Years Of Sea Turtles Uncovered
Turtles might have far more complex social lives than it would seem. New recordings made of the animals "talking" via a series of specific vocalizations -- including moms possibly guiding newbies -- put weight behind that prospect.
A team of researchers spent 2009 through 2011 in Brazil on the Rio Trombetas, using microphones above and below the water to record more than 250 sounds made by river turtles.
The team, from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National Institute of Amazonian Research, then studied the recordings, ending up with at least six different types of sound made by the turtles during nesting season, depending on the situation in which they found themselves.
The turtles would make a particular type of sound when migrating in the water, for example, and another kind of chatter when tiny hatchlings were taking their first floppy steps on the beach. The latter chatter suggested to the researchers that they might be hearing what amounted to the first parental guidance for the newly hatched offspring.
Team member Dr. Camila Ferrara suggested that the females, waiting on the beach for their new charges, made the sounds in order to guide the hatchlings toward the open water. "Without these sounds, they might not know where to go," she told BBC News.
Although the scientists are uncertain what each sound specifically means, "we think sound helps the animals to synchronize their activities in the nesting season," Ferrara said.
The results of the team's work recently appeared in the journal Herpetologica.
via BBC News