August 1, 2012.
In ideal leatherback sea turtle nests, all the hatchlings move together as a single group through the sand to leave the nest. Often, though, hatchlings emerge in two separate groups hours or days apart while others remain stuck in the sand where they may die unless they are dug out (excavation). First emergence groups spend the shortest amount of time in the sand while excavated hatchlings spend the longest amount of time in the sand (typically three days longer than first emergence hatchlings). Individuals from each of the separate emergences were weighed and measured (carapace only) in order to compare physical changes among the different emergence groups. It was found that hatchlings that spent more time in the sand weighed less and had narrower carapaces than those hatchlings which emerged earlier from the same nest. These physical changes may reflect lower fitness and decreased survivability.
Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Life Sciences
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA SWFSC)
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).