Our Shy Neighbor

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A field guide to the East Pacific Green Sea Turtle

Transcript of Our Shy Neighbor

  • OurShyNeighbor:

    TheEastPacificGreenSeaTurtle(CheloniaMydas)

    TheLosCerritosWetlandsareproudtohostanexcitingpopulationofEastPacificGreenSeaTurtles!LocatedalongtheSanGabrielRiver,theseinternationallyendangeredseaturtlescanbespottedpokingtheirheadsoutofthewaterbetweenbreathsastheygentlyglidebetweenthebanksoftheriver.

    AseaturtlespottedintheSanGabrielRiverbyoneofourLandTourparticipants FrequentlyAskedQuestions:WherecanIseeaseaturtleoutattheLosCerritosWetlands?

    ThepopulationofseaturtleswehavebeenstudyingarelocatedalongastretchoftheSanGabrielRiverbetweenthePCHand7thstreetbridgesthatrunsthroughtheLosCerritosWetlandsproperty.Wheredidtheseseaturtlescomefrom?

    Althoughnothinghasbeenpublishedaboutwheretheturtlescamefrom,itisbelievedthatthispopulationislikelyfromnestinggroundsoffthecoastofMexico.

  • Whatiskeepingthemhere?

    OnetheoryisthattheoncethroughcoolingprocessthattheHaynesGeneratingStationusesduringitspowergeneratingprocesscouldbeanimportantfactor.WaterfromAlamitosBayisdirectedtowardsthegeneratingstationthroughachannelandisusedtocooltheturbinesinthefacilitythatisthendischargedintotheSanGabrielRiverthroughculverts,atahighertemperaturethanwhenitwasoriginallytakenfromtheocean.Thiselevatedwatertemperaturecouldbecontributingtotheareasabilitytosupportourpopulationofseaturtles,butaclearanswerisnotyetfullyunderstood.CanItakeonehome?

    Nope!Sorry.Althoughthesegreenseaturtlesareveryadorable,theyarealsoincrediblyendangeredandprotectedbytheEndangeredSpeciesAct.Arethereothertypesofseaturtles?

    Yes!Therearequiteafewdifferentspeciesofseaturtles.Tonameafew,theLoggerhead,Leatherback,Hawksbill,KempsRidleyandOliveRidleyareallendangeredaswellindifferentpartsoftheworld.Whoisworkingonseaturtleconservation?

    TheNationalOceanicandAtmosphericAdministration(NOAA)andtheU.S.FishandWildlifeServicejointlyprotectseaturtlesintheUnitedStates.Therearealsoquiteafewnonprofitconservationeffortsworkingwithseaturtlesaroundtheworldaswellasotherrespectivegovernmentagenciesfordifferentcountrieswithseaturtlepopulations.HowcanIgetinvolved? TakeaminutetolearnaboutthisremarkablespeciesbelowandjoinourmailinglisttogetupdatedonourcitizenscientistledseaturtlemonitoringprogramoutattheWetlands! NaturalHistory:PacificGreenSeaTurtlesarelargemarineturtleswithpaddlelikeforelimbsthatmakethempowerfulandgracefulswimmerswithabroad,smoothcarapace,orshell.Namednotforthecolorortheirshell,whichcanbebrownorolivecoloreddependingontheirhabitat,thePacificGreenSeaTurtlegotitsnamefromthegreenishcolorofitsskin.Seaturtleshavebeenaroundforaverylongtime;theirancestorsoriginallyevolvedonlandthenandtooktotheseaabout150millionyearsagowheretheyremaintoday.Torepaythelandforitsabandonment,allseaturtlesbegintheirlifethereandmustreturntoittolaytheireggsasadults.Seaturtlestakeononeofthemostincrediblejourneysontheplanet,riddledwith

  • challengeseverystepoftheway.Thisspeciesisfrighteninglyclosetoextinctionduetoaddedpressuresfromhumanactivityanddesperatelyneedsourhelp.DietUnlikemostseaturtles,adultgreenseaturtlesareherbivorous,feedingonseagrassesandalgae.Juvenilesontheotherhandcanbeconsideredomnivorous,sincetheyeatinvertebrateslikecrabs,jellyfish,andspongesduringtheirfirstfewyearsoutatsea.RangeGreenseaturtlescanbefoundallovertheworldwithmostoftheirlifespentwithintropicalwaters,withaportionoftimespentinmoretemperatezoneswhentheymigrate.HereinCalifornia,greenseaturtlesthatarespottedareusuallyjustpassingthrough,whichmakesourresidentpopulationhereattheLosCerritosWetlandsquiterare.AsmallpopulationofgreenseaturtleshavealsobeenlivinginthewarmwatereffluentchannelofaSanDiegopowerplantinSanDiegoBaywithconditionssimilartothosehereinoutatthewetlands.GreenseaturtlesareoccasionallyfoundelsewherealongtheCaliforniacoastduringElNinoyearswhenoceantemperaturesarehigherthanusual.

    HabitatMostofthelifeofagreenseaturtleisspentinwarm,protected,shallowwatersofsuchfeaturesaslagoons,bays,estuariesormangroveswithabundantaquaticvegetationsuchasbedsofeelgrassorseaweed.Greenseaturtles,likeotherspecies,areknowntoundertakelengthymigrationsfromfeedingsitestonestingsiteswhereaportionoftheirlifeisspentaswell.Fromthefeedingsitesofshallowwatersofbaysandlagoons,greenseaturtlestravelthroughoceanicconvergencezonestoreachnestinggroundsthatareusuallythousandsofkilometersaway.Normallyconsistingofsandybeaches,nestinggroundsareakeypartofthesurvivalandperpetuationofthespecies,whichwillbediscussedlater.AfewimportantnestinggroundsincludePuertoRico,Hawaii,CostaRica,Florida,andalongthecoastofMexico.AverageLifespanInthewild,agreenseaturtlecanliveover80years!SizeHatchlingsstartoffatabouttwoinches,adultscangrowuptofivefeetandweighinatasmuchas500lbs,makingtheseturtlesamongthelargestintheworld!

  • HatchlinggreenseaturtleinSuriname,SouthAmerica

    JuvenilegreenseaturtleinKailuaKona,Hawaii FunFacts:1.Seaturtleshavetemperaturedependantsexdetermination(theydonthaveXandYchromosomeslikewedo).Thismeansthetemperatureoftheeggdeterminesthesexofthedevelopingembryo!Warmtemperaturesproducefemalehatchlings,andcooltemperaturesproducingmalehatchlings.Thisdiscoveryhashadmajorimplicationsforseaturtleconservationsincemanyhatcherieswouldkeepeggsatawarmtemperatureandwereonlyproducingfemalehatchlings.2.Adultseaturtlescanholdtheirbreathforupto30minutes!3.Seaturtleeggsareusedinmanydifferentwaysandareconsideredveryvaluableindifferentpartsoftheworld,whichhasledtoeggpoachingbecomingoneofthemajorthreatstoseaturtles.SeaturtleeggshavehadsomeprettybizarreusesincludingabelievedformofnaturalViagraformeninLatinAmericawheneatenrawanddroppedinaglassofbeer.

  • myeggsarenotthesolution!advertisementmadebyaconservationefforttostoptheuseofseaturtleeggsforirresponsiblehumanconsumption.4.AnotherusewasincludedasakeyingredientinCostaRicancookiesandcakesinthe1970s.Thelackofsulfurbondsinseaturtleeggsmeanstheeggswontcoagulatewhentheyarecooked,resultinginalightandfluffymixmakingCostaRicanbakedgoodsexceptionallytasty.ThankfullytheCostaRicanbakingindustryhasswitchedtochickeneggsandfoundawaytokeepthetasteoftheirfamouscookiesandcakeswithoutfurtherendangeringthiswonderfulspecies.ThreatstothePacificGreenSeaTurtle:Seaturtlesencounteranumberofthreatsthroughouttheirlivescausedbybothnaturalandanthropogenicactivity.Naturalthreatsincludepredationstartinginthenestallthewaythroughadolescence.Raccoonsandcoyotesraidnestsandeatseaturtleeggsbeforetheyhaveachancetohatch.Hatchlingsencounterahostofpredatorsalongtheirracetotheoceanaswellasduringtheirfirstfewyearsatseaincludingcrabs,birdsandanythingelselookingforabitesizedsnack.Onceseaturtlesreachadulthoodtherearefewnaturalpredatorsduetotheirsizeandcarapacestrengthwiththeexceptionofoccasionalsharkattacks,whichareprettyrare.Whenansweringthequestionastowhatisthecauseoftherapiddeclineinglobalseaturtlepopulations,itbecomesclearthatthenaturalthreatstoseaturtleshavelittletodowithit.Researchershavecalculatedthatbeforehumanshadanimpactonseaturtlepopulations,thereweremorethan100milliongreenturtlesintheCaribbeanSeaalone,andhundredsofmillionsintherestofthetropicaloceans.Nowthereareabout0.1%ofthosenumbersinourseas.

  • Sources:Text:1.http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/greenturtle/2.http://www.californiaherps.com/turtles/pages/c.mydas.html3.http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/green.htm4.http://www.conserveturtles.org/information.php?page=threats5.Spotila,JamesR.SavingSeaTurtles:ExtraordinaryStoriesfromtheBattleagainstExtinction.Baltimore:JohnsHopkinsUP,2011.Print.6.http://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=PRD&ParentMenuId=212&id=4378Pictures:http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/greenturtle/http://neosmart.net/gallery/photo/view/wallpapers/Bing+Wallpapers/Green+Sea+Turtle/http://www.bing.com/featured/content/search?q=Wildlife:+Green+Sea+Turtleshttp://my.opera.com/ErosmanTR/albums/showpic.dml?album=5797782&picture=87711142http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/kateg/2008/06/