Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DIVING THROUGH THE EYES OF A SEA TURTLE

The following video shows  a camera placed on top of a turtle´s  shell and the images reveal the animal´s perspective.  Some little turtles were also monitored throughout the Brazilian coast.

During the night there is some stir in the sand. All of a sudden a newborn pops out. A couple of minutes later the nest  yields tens of little turtles which by instinct run towards the sea. The beach is teeming with predators. Every year, around one million young turtles  are born at the Brazilian beaches, but out in the wild, only one in a thousand reaches  adult life.

The first day is the most dangerous. The little ones who survive the attacks and manage to get to the water still have to face attacks by birds and fish. What happens to them from this moment on is a mistery. Where do they go? Where do they feed? In an attempt to answer  such questions researchers from the Tamar Project and the Florida Atlantic University are working together on a singular project – a  camera placed on the back of a  turtle reveals  it all. 

Our friend swam among sharks, made some beautiful underwater images at the Bahia seashore.  But the researchers want to know more. For the first time they attached chips to little turtles and tracked down their whereabouts  by satellites in their first months of marine life.

Kate Mansfield, the American biologist, adapted transmitters used on birds.  The greatest challenge, according to her, is to keep the transmitter attached to the offspring´s shell. Due to the young turtles´ quick growth, the transmitter would easily detach . The answer came to Katie when she was at the manicurist.  As the shell  and our nails are pretty much alike, I decided to  sandpaper it a little before applying an acrylic foundation.  Silicon helps hold it together.  The battery is solar powered and lasts  10 hours; recharging takes two days.

We left the base of the Tamar Project at Praia do Forte, northern Bahia, and headed 10 kilometers offshore to release three young turtles.  The first turtle is the oldest, 11 months old and about 7 inches long.  The other two are younger, 4 and a half months old and about 5 inches long. If the turtles are too small, there is no way of attaching the transmitters to them.  It was first developed in lab conditions so as to demonstrate no harm was done to the animals and nor their behavior was affected by the transmitters.

After the turtles  are released into the sea, their coordinates are marked. The equipment contains buoys and GPS devices and also sails – its mains purpose is to show the currents patterns in the surroundings.  One of the animals  is released close to the equipment .
The older turtle went southwards, and soon went  off  the coast, in oceanic waters and then  changed its course, northbound.  After 43 days it stopped transmitting signals. It had swum 1,215 kilometers (754,97 miles).
One of the smaller turtles went off the coast, returned and went northwards. It stopped transmitting after 68 days, offshore Pernambuco state, after swimming 2,581 km ( 1,603.76 miles).
The other little turtle went south, along the shore, and after 100 days, it is still sending signals. According to the last recording it had swum 2,385 km (1,481.97 miles)  and  was next to Sao Paulo state.

The researcher states that the purpose is to reveal what happens in the first year of life, currents and winds being strong determinants. Such study will be tallied with results from transmitters placed on adult turtles. The adult ones which had been monitored went north and fed themselves next to the Ceara state. By the time they were tracked down,  the current was northbound.

When the Tamar Project was launched 33 years ago, the marine turtles were threatened by extinction due to predatory fishing. On account  of  research and preservation measures the number of females appearing on the Brazilian coast  went tenfold.  By understanding their behavior patterns we can develop preemptive measures to avoid threats to the species. 





Want to engage in satellite tracking? Try this site
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