Turtles like local love

Olive Ridley turtles CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Olive Ridley turtles CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo by Geoporter on Flickr

Photo by Geoporter on Flickr

Olive Ridley turtles CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Abby Marlborough, Reporter

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A recent study published by Flinders University, has revealed how an endangered turtle will not travel to find a mate due to seasonal ocean currents.

The report claims the species of sea turtle, called Olive Ridley, will not travel large distances to find a mate when ocean currents are not favourable.

Marine biologists at Flinders University in Adelaide found Olive Ridley Turtles across a large coastal region of tropical eastern Pacific Ocean are known to have complex ocean circulation.

“Surprisingly, we showed that connectivity is largely reduced in these turtles because of the influence of dynamic ocean circulation during the migration and mating seasons, but not in other periods of the year,” said Professor Luciano Beheregaray.

The research shows that turtles found across vast oceanic regions, like the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, show movement and mating preferences are influenced by small differences in current circulation around these areas.

This suggests that turtles follow the currents and are adapted to seasonal oceanographic differences across the region, providing cost–benefit solutions that might be particularly advantageous for females during the breeding season.

While there is very little known about the movement patterns and mating preferences of large marine animals – some can move across entire oceans and cross a variety of habitats during their lifetime.

This is the first study to show that these sea turtles, despite being capable of moving across very large distances, show connectivity reduced by their ocean environment.

“This finding is very relevant for the conservation management of this endangered species in the eastern Pacific, a region that represents the main area of reproduction of the species in the world,” said author Dr Clara Rodriguez-Zarate.

“Understanding how marine animals perceive their environment and how this impacts on their movements is essential for addressing human impacts and for informing conservation management,” said Professor Beheregaray.

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Turtles like local love