Crime-Scene Technique Used to Track Turtles
Scientists have used satellite tracking and a crime-scene technique to discover an important feeding ground for green turtles in the Mediterranean.
University of Exeter researchers measured “stable isotope ratios” – a chemical signature also used by forensic scientists – to discover which foraging grounds turtles had come from to breed in Cyprus.
They discovered that Lake Bardawil, on Egypt’s north coast, is now the most important foraging ground for turtles which breed at Alagadi in Cyprus.
The researchers believe few breeding females came from the Lake Bardawil feeding ground until 2010. It is likely that changes to the ecosystem have made this shallow saline lake a top foraging site.
Green turtles swim hundreds of miles between feeding and breeding areas. The research shows that most females (some 82%) return again and again to the same places.
In terms of stable isotopes animals ‘are what they eat’ meaning tests can reveal where they have been spending their time.
The combination of isotope analysis and satelite tracking gives us more reliable data and can help te measure the success of future conservation measures
source: ENN, from University of Exeter, November 6, 2017
Image: Map of eastern Mediterranean, with Cyprus and Egypt