A group of scientists have unraveled a crucial clue in the “lost years” mystery of the baby sea turtles.
According to the new study, these marine creatures are very active swimmers. The researchers said that they can even swim fantastically at a tender age of six-18 months. The study showed that sea turtles not only drift passively in the ocean currents as was earlier believed.
Nathan Putman, study lead author from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, “With a better understanding of swimming behaviour in these yearlings we can make better predictions about where they go and what risks they might encounter.”
The scientists have been confused for decades about where these turtles use to exactly travel in their initial years of life before returning to coastal results as adults in order to forage as well as reproduce.
After hatching eggs, the baby sea turtles swim offshore and further disperse in the deeper water due to the ocean currents.
The marine creatures are rarely observed during the next two-10 years or so on. The researchers hardly have any clue about the movements of these juveniles during this period, which is dubbed by the researchers as the “lost years”.
For the latest study, the specially designed solar-powered tags, which were tracked by satellite for a shorter duration, were place by the researchers on 24 green and 20 Kemp’s ridley wild-caught sea turtle babies in the Gulf of Mexico.
Little, carefully-weighted or passively-drifting surface buoys were deployed next to the turtles. They were also tracked by a satellite.
The researchers compared the drifter tracks with the movements of sea turtles and discovered that the paths of marine animals were significantly different from the passive drifters.
With the help of observed and modelled ocean current condition, the researchers found there was a difference in distances between the turtles and drifters.
Study co-author Kate Mansfield, from University of Central Florida, believes the findings of the latest study may help in finding new ways to protect these endangered creatures.