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Island-finding ability of marine turtles

  • Graeme C. Hays
  • Susanne Åkesson
  • Annette C. Broderick
  • Fiona Glen
  • Brendan J. Godley
  • Floriano Papi
  • Paolo Luschi
Publishing year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 5-7
Publication/Series: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Volume: 270
Issue: Suppl. 1, Aug 7
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) swim from foraging grounds along the Brazilian coast to Ascension Island to nest, over 2200 km distant in the middle of the equatorial Atlantic. To test the hypothesis that turtles use wind-borne cues to locate Ascension Island we found turtles that had just completed nesting and then moved three individuals 50 km northwest (downwind) of the island and three individuals 50 km southeast (upwind). Their subsequent movements were tracked by satellite. Turtles released downwind returned to Ascension Island within 1, 2 and 4 days, respectively. By contrast, those released upwind had far more difficulty in relocating Ascension Island, two eventually returning after 10 and 27 days and the third heading back to Brazil after failing to find its way back to the island. These findings strongly support the hypothesis that wind-borne cues are used by turtles to locate Ascension Island.


  • Biological Sciences


  • ISSN: 1471-2954
Susanne Åkesson
E-mail: susanne [dot] akesson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Evolutionary ecology

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