A tracking study in the Gulf of Mexico has shown that young sea turtles make a concerted effort to swim in particular directions, instead of drifting with ocean currents, as was previuosly thought..
There are seven species of sea turtle and all of them are endangered or threatened.
Baby turtles disappear at sea for up to a decade and it was once assumed that they spent these "lost years" drifting. US researchers used solar powered satellite tags to track 44 wild turtles, aged between six months and two years, in the Gulf of Mexico and compared their movement with that of floating buoys. Each time a baby turtle was caught it was released with two "drifters" - to see how the movements varied. The drifters and turtles diverged quickly and had very different movement properties.
Different species of turtles showed different movement patterns as well. The green turtles, for instance, were really set on going east a lot of the time. And the Kemp's ridley turtles, were convinced that they should be swimming north.
There is still a lot more to learned, especially about hatchling turtles who are too small to have a tracking device attached to them.
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