August 11, 2014
Young Loggerhead Turtles Don’t Go With The Flow
Juvenile loggerhead turtles swim into oncoming ocean currents, instead of passively drifting with them, according to a study published August 6, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Donald Kobayashi from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and colleagues.
The authors found that the turtles were swimming against the prevailing current in a statistically significant pattern at a rate of 30 cm/sec, which indicates an ability to detect the current flow and orient themselves to swim into the current flow direction. The authors suggest that the turtles likely use multiple sensory cues that enable them to orient and offset displacement due to wind and ocean currents. Additional factors could be taken into consideration for future studies to provide more information about why this swimming pattern exists, to further explore turtle ecology in ocean currents.
"This study provides evidence that these oceanic stages of loggerhead sea turtles studied with satellite tags do not necessarily get passively transported with ocean currents and, further, provides compelling evidence that these turtles are able to resist such transport using some mechanism not yet fully understood. They are apparently able to detect the direction of current flow and swim against the prevailing current," Dr. Kobayashi added.