Where do the GIANT TURTLES go? Tracking the ENDANGERED LEATHERBACKS!

From the Boston Globe

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff

One of the toughest parts of studying large marine animals is tracking them in the water.
Yet University of New Hampshire scientists just tagged three leatherbacks – those giant endangered creatures that can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. One male and two females weighing about 700-800 pounds were recently outfitted with GPS satellite tags on their backs.

Researchers want to track the elusive migratory creatures to better understand their feeding, swimming and other habits to help them survive. While killer whales and sharks attack them in the open water, they are also killed by ingesting marine debris, getting hit by boat propellers and getting entangled in fishing gear.

“We investigators spent 20 years attempting to learn about these animals on the high seas’ with only slow progress,” says UNH research associate professor Molly Lutcavage, director of UNH’s Large Pelagics Research Center. “This work will be useful for marine resource managers and others who want to understand how leatherbacks spend their days in the New England region and beyond.”

The tags transmit depth, water temperature and location information daily via satellite, allowing researchers to gain insight into the movement patterns of the sea turtles.

Warm temperatures have brought an abundance of jellyfish, the primary food source for leatherbacks, to the area this year, creating a banner year for the elusive leatherbacks.

To see where this article came from and the link to learn more about Leatherbacks click the link.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/greenblog/2008/08/where_do_the_giant_turtles_go_1.html

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~ by Digory Kirke on August 3, 2008.

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