Turtles watch for, snack on gelatinous prey while swimming

Jun 12, 2013
This is a loggerhead turtle in the study equipped with a 3-D logger. Credit: Tomoko Narazaki (Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo)

Loggerhead turtles use visual cues to find gelatinous prey to snack on as they swim in open waters, according to research published June 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Tomoko Narazaki and colleagues from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

Tracking underwater movements with 3D loggers and National Geographic Crittercams, the researchers found the turtles relied on sight, rather than sound or smell, to identify and move toward gelatinous, floating prey like jellyfish and other organisms; one turtle even swam toward a floating plastic bag. Turtles in this study foraged for such foods approximately twice every hour, suggesting they may rely on such gelatinous prey for energy more than previously thought.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A loggerhead turtle encounters a plastic bag while swimming in open water. Credit: PLOS ONE 8(6): e66043. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066043

Previous studies have shown that turtle diets vary with their age, habitat and other factors, but adult turtles depend on deep-sea hard-shelled animals like mollusks for food. The gelatinous prey studied here are low-energy, easily digestible foods that are unlikely to replace these other prey. However, the authors suggest that opportunistic foraging on such prey may benefit loggerhead turtles during oceanic migrations, when prey at the bottom of the sea is harder to reach.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A loggerhead turtle foraged on a sea nettle, Chrysaora melanaster. Credit: PLOS ONE 8(6): e66043. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066043

The study also offers insights into the foraging habits of these turtles, listed an endangered species by by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The authors add that the methods used here could be developed to map areas with higher foraging opportunities along oceanic for loggerhead turtles.

Explore further: Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas

More information: Narazaki T, Sato K, Abernathy KJ, Marshall GJ, Miyazaki N (2013) Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) Use Vision to Forage on Gelatinous Prey in Mid-Water. PLOS ONE 8(6): e66043. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066043

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study maps accidental killings of sea turtles

Apr 01, 2013

Sea turtles can get accidentally caught and killed in fishing operations, and new research out Monday seeks to map this phenomenon for the first time in a bid to save the endangered creatures.

Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas

Apr 29, 2013

Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that is the first to track the federally protected ...

Satellite tracking reveals sea turtle feeding hotspots

Feb 06, 2012

Satellite tracking of threatened loggerhead sea turtles has revealed two previously unknown feeding 'hotspots' in the Gulf of Mexico that are providing important habitat for at least three separate populations of the turtles, ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...