A group of researchers from the Campus Gandia, under the direction of Eduardo Belda, are taking part in a satellite tagging project studying the behavior, habitat use and survival of captive-bred and rehabilitated loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). The study is being carried out in collaboration with the Generalitat Valenciana, the University of Valencia, the Oceanogràfic Institute and the NGO Xaloc.
The loggerhead turtles are being tagged with satellite transmitters to track their movements after their release into the sea. The first turtle to be released was Lola, a juvenile loggerhead that was rehabilitated in Arca del Mar. Her tracking is being sponsored by the Aquarium of Seville.
The following map shows all of Lola’s movements on her journey throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Also, by clicking on the marks in the map, you can view additional information provided by the scientists involved in the project.
(Update, September 23, 2015)
With regards to Lola’s tracking, Eduardo Belda, the researcher in charge of the project, confirms the survival during the first several weeks after release. This is a critical period for animals from recovery centers, making the results more than satisfactory.
Based on the information registered by the satellites, it was determined that Lola dispersed northward from Torrevieja to the Delta del Ebro and was located mainly in neritic habitats (the area of sea near the coast, but that does not touch the shore, ranging from a depth of 10 meters to 200 meters below sea level).
The tag sent signals for nearly three months, “a fantastic result when you consider that the average lifespan of tags in previous projects was 55 days,” according to Belda. The quality of the locations was low, probably due to energy harvesting problems in the solar panels. Another unfavorable circumstance was “the presence of clouds that affected the satellite location,” said Belda. The work has served to “design a better tagging system for the juvenile loggerheads born in 2014, and which we tagged in September 2015,” concludes the researcher.
NEW RELEASE OF TURTLES
The study continues to track the movements of several juvenile loggerheads born in 2014 from a nest of loggerhead turtle found on the beach of San Juan (Alicante). Researchers from the Marine Zoology Unit of the University of Valencia transferred the nest, which contained 130 eggs, to a protected area in the Saler beach, where it was guarded by volunteers from the NGO Xaloc. Some of the eggs were incubated in the “ARCA del Mar” in the Oceanographic Park in Valencia. Finally, 103 eggs were hatched and the hatchlings were cared for in the ARCA during the year to increase their odds of survival.
Photos by Eutimio Martinez (Más allá de la ciudad)
The Campus Gandia researchers have expanded the initial Lola project and are studying the migrations of these juveniles via satellite tagging of several of the specimens released on the beach of Carabassi (Elche) on September 14, 2015. A total of 23 turtles were released, eight of which were tagged with satellite transmitters like Lola’s. The names of turtles were drawn from the pool of proposals made by the many people attending the event.
The release occurs at this time due to several key factors. Firstly, because it is the time of year that the turtles hatch from their eggs; secondly, because they have reached a sufficient size that will offer them greater chance of survival; and finally, because the water temperature is optimal at this time of year.
Video of ‘Esto es Elche’
You can see the tracking of Lola and the 8 new specimens in the map titled “Tortuga Lola y sus amigas” found at the beginning of this post. More information on this and other similar scientific projects from around the world in the website www.seaturtle.org.
(Update, January 11, 2016)
If you are interested in sponsoring any of the turtles taking part in the project, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and find out how.