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How learning more about mass nesting can help conserve sea turtles
Date:10/18/2011

esearchers found that even though fewer than 2,000 olive ridleys nest in French Guiana, they still synchronise their breeding, all leaving the sea to lay their eggs on the beach on the same nights. Until now, this behaviour had only been recorded among large populations of olive ridleys in India, Costa Rica and Mexico.

And thanks to the data loggers, the researchers gained a unique insight into how the turtles behave at sea between successive nesting events. During the first part of the nesting season individual turtles show a wide range of diving behaviour. Then, triggered by a cue that remains a mystery, they all start behaving in the same way, returning to the nesting beach and performing regular, systematic and shallow dives.

Together with local conservation efforts, the fact that such a small population of olive ridleys can synchronise their reproduction may explain why the number of nests laid every year in French Guiana has increased three-fold over the past 10 years. But, Ms Plot warns, this group behaviour also makes them more vulnerable.

"In terms of conservation, gathering together at the same time and in the same place to nest makes female olive ridleys vulnerable to human disturbance and could jeopardise their survival. By mapping more accurately how the turtles gather prior to coming ashore our study should help protect them," she says.


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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-122-357-0016
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert  

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