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The importance of foraging beaches for seaturtles

  • Laura Tangley
  • Aug 01, 2007
FAMOUS FOR THEIR ABILITY to navigate great distances back to the same nesting beaches year after year, sea turtles may also return to identical foraging sites, suggests a recent study.

Annette Broderick of the University of Exeter and her colleagues attached satellite transmitters to 20 green and loggerhead turtles that had nested on two beaches in Cyprus, then tracked the reptiles for several months. Five years later, they retagged five of the turtles when they came back to Cyprus. Their surprise discovery was that after breeding and laying eggs, each turtle traveled hundreds of miles to return to the exact same foraging site--using exactly the same migratory route--as it had five years earlier.

The results could affect strategies for protecting the endangered reptiles. Usually, sea turtles are protected by law only when they visit nesting beaches. The new study "strengthens the case for protection of key migratory and foraging areas," says Broderick.

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