Navigation Links
Survey identifies sea turtle 'hitchhikers'
Date:11/8/2011

"It is strange to think of a sea turtle as an ecosystem," says Amanda Feuerstein, program coordinator and research assistant at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, "but they arethey have all of these other animals living on their skin and shells."

Feuerstein is co-author of a recent survey documenting the crustaceans, mollusks, algae and other marine organisms that make a home on the bodies Olive Ridley and green sea turtles living in the Pacific.

For three years -- 2001, 2002 and 2008 -- on Teopa Beach in Jalisco, Mexico, Feuerstein and colleagues examined the shell, neck and flippers of female turtles that had come out onto the beach to nest, collecting and carefully documenting all the organisms -- known as epibionts -- they found. It is the first comprehensive survey on Pacific turtle epibionts, and was recently published in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. The survey was organized by the Turtle Epibiont Project of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Sixteen different epibiont species were found on the turtles, Feuerstein says, including crabs, a variety of barnacles, the remora or "shark sucker," and leeches. Most of the Pacific sea turtle epibionts are obligate -- meaning they are found only on sea turtles, nowhere else.

Compared to turtles living in the Atlantic, "the Pacific turtles are coming up pretty darn clean," says Eric Lazo-Wasme of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, lead author of the study. Similar surveys of Atlantic Ocean turtles have recorded as many as 90 epibiont species living on them. The scientists are uncertain why Pacific turtles have fewer epibionts.

"For years we considered epibionts as harmless hitchhikers on the turtles, but that opinion is starting to change," Lazo-Wasem explains. "Barnacles in large numbers can cause significant drag on a turtle as it swims and some barnacles embed into the skin and have very long projections that pierce laterally into the skin." Leeches have also been shown to transmit disease.

The impetus for the survey was born out of conservation concern for sea turtles as an endangered species. Coevolutionary relationships between turtles and their epibionts, and how these relationships affect turtle health and ecology have only recently come under scrutiny, the researchers say.

The study includes photographs of and taxonomic commentary on each of the epibiont species documented and survey instructions for future studies on how to collect epibionts from sea turtles.

"We wanted to make the paper one that people could really use," Lazo-Wasem says. "We weren't really pleased with past surveys because there was not a lot of detail in them."

"When we endanger animals like sea turtles many other groups of animals are affected," Feuerstein says. "Loosing one species is more complicated and tragic" than people may realize.


'/>"/>
Contact: John Gibbons
gibbonsjp@si.edu
202-633-5287
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Survey finds public support for geoengineering research
2. Researchers complete first major survey of amphibian fungus in Asia
3. UK survey shows differences between clinicians treating rheumatology in pregnancy
4. USDA/AIA survey reports 2010/2011 winter honey bee losses
5. Willow cut-stem growers surveyed
6. Survey says: Genetics affect whether were willing to take surveys
7. Survey shows many are still clueless on how to save energy
8. First nearshore survey of Antarctic krill reveals high density, stable population in shallow waters
9. Scientific coral reef survey to be conducted in Bonaire
10. Study finds that simple 2-question survey can better identify hungry children
11. Stanford pollster to discuss latest survey on global warming
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Survey identifies sea turtle 'hitchhikers'
(Date:4/6/2017)... April 6, 2017 Forecasts by ... Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & ... Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, ... Are you looking for a definitive report ... ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , ... server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune ... already secured over 15 million users across the financial ... connected home product suites and physical access represent a ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... , April 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC , ... that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ... covers the linking of an iris image with a ... and represents the company,s 45 th issued patent. ... is very timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities that ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The Giving ... marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into ... in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is ... Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for advanced ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... Mass. , Oct. 6, 2017  The ... work of three scientists, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim ... breakthrough developments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) ... technology within the structural biology community. The winners ... Scientists can now routinely produce highly resolved, three-dimensional ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... On Tuesday, ... webinar on INSIGhT, the first-ever adaptive clinical trial for glioblastoma (GBM). The featured ... event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: