Today’s Image of the Day is of the kind of turtle you’d want to have a drink with. He’s a loggerhead turtle from Greece, and he has reason to celebrate.
The loggerhead turtle was listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, that is, until last year. Thanks to a 30-year long collaborative conservation effort by NGO ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, along with researchers from the University of Exeter, loggerheads have been reclassified to a lower threat level of “vulnerable.”
As part of the project, a team of scientists from the University of Exeter tracked loggerhead turtles in the Amvrakikos Gulf in northwestern Greece. They found at least 700 loggerheads from populations living within 125 miles.
“The situation of loggerheads has improved thanks to concerted conservation efforts, but there’s more work to do if we want to see continued improvement,” said Dr Alan Rees from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter. “Previous studies have generally involved tagging female turtles on nesting beaches, but that method doesn’t give us information on males and juveniles.
“For this research we studied turtles in their foraging area and used flipper tagging, satellite tracking and genetics to establish where they had come from and where they go when moving from where we found them.”
The team reported their findings in an article published in the journal Marine Biology.
What surprised the researchers was how far some of the female loggerheads travel to to give birth. In one instance, a mother swam well over 1,000 miles, first to Syria, and then to Turkey to breed.
“The thing that baffles me is that they generally migrate in the spring but this turtle moved in the summer,” said Dr Rees. “It arrived in Turkey in the autumn, stayed over winter then moved to the nearby breeding area the next year.
“Perhaps it left nine months early to make sure it arrived in time for breeding, which was probably sensible as its original journey took it hundreds of miles out of its way.”
By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer
Photo: Alan Rees