Tremough scientist reveals turtles' secret journeys
A scientist from the University of Exeter's Tremough
Campus, Penryn, has discovered that after laying their eggs,
sea turtles travel hundreds of miles to feed at exactly the
same sites. The research, funded by the Natural Environment
Research Council (NERC), shows for the first time that marine
turtles appear to be as loyal to specific foraging sites and
migratory routes as they are to nesting sites. Published in
the prestigious journal, 'Proceedings of the Royal Society
B: Biological Sciences', the findings strengthen the
argument for the protection of key foraging sites of these
"The extent to which turtles showed fidelity to
specific foraging sites and routes was a surprise,"
said Dr Annette Broderick of the University of Exeter's
Tremough Campus. "Marine turtles migrate hundreds
of miles between breeding and foraging grounds, so it is amazing
that they are able to return to exactly the same sites via
very similar routes. We do not yet know why they return to
the same sites, but these findings give us a much better picture
of the behaviour of adult turtles at sea, where they spend
the majority of their life cycle."
Scientists have long known that marine turtles return to
the same breeding sites each year, but did not know until
now that they also revisited foraging sites. Dr Broderick
and her team tracked twenty green and loggerhead turtles nesting
at two beaches on Cyprus, using satellite transmitters. All
females tracked for more than six months remained in the same
foraging grounds, moving to deeper water for the winter where
they conducted dives of up to a record breaking 10.2 hours.
Five females were also tracked when they nested again up to
five years later and returned to the same foraging sites.
"There are estimated to be as few as 300 female
green turtles breeding annually in the Mediterranean,"
continued Dr Broderick. "This new information
is timely and our research findings strengthen the case for
the protection of key migratory and foraging areas. We have
shared our findings with the Libyan authorities and are encouraging
them to investigate these 'hotspots' further."
One of the major threats to marine turtles globally is fisheries
bycatch. Hundreds of thousands of marine turtles die each
year as a result of fisheries interactions. Identifying and
protecting key habitats is critical for the future of these
The £100 million Tremough campus is a Combined Universities
in Cornwall initiative of which the University of Exeter and
University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners.
It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One),
the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher
Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall
County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close
to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus
offers a lively student community. Building on the success
of its existing degrees at the Cornwall Campus in Mining Engineering,
Geology, Biology, Geography, English and Renewable Energy,
the University is now able to offer degrees in Politics, Law,
History and Cornish Studies.
For further information contact Sarah Hoyle, Press Officer
at University of Exeter on 01392 262062/07989 446920 or email
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities
in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through
the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European
Social Fund (ESF). The University of Exeter and University
College Falmouth are partners of the CUC.
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