Nine turtles helping researchers learn about “lost years”

Written by on March 6, 2017 in Marine Life, Sea Turtles
Turtle release day. Photo credit SEA LIFE.

Turtle release day. Photo credit SEA LIFE.

Late last month, SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast released nine juvenile flatback turtles off the coast of Bundaberg as part of a one-of-a-kind marine conservation project.

Along with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the Queensland Museum, SEA LIFE is working to determine what happens during sea turtles “lost years”

“They seem to disappear for the first five to 10 years and very little is known about what occurs during this phase, which is why this project is so vital in helping us to fill that gap in our understanding,” SEA LIFE general curator Aaron Sprowl said in a press release.

The flatbacks were collected as hatchlings from Mon Repos just over a year ago. Since then, they were cared for at SEA LIFE, have grown to about 15cm in length, and were fitted with miniature solar-powered satellite tags that will allow researchers to track their movements, collect important data, and lead to more effective conservation measures.The tags are expected to last for about three months before the tags break free as the turtles grow.

Hatchling. Photo credit: SEA LIFE.

Hatchling. Photo credit: SEA LIFE.

“The data will provide insight into where they go and how they behave, helping us to pinpoint areas of the coast where they congregate and which may need extra conservation protection,” Sprowl said.

SEA LIFE plans to continue this project with new hatchlings this year and will likely follow a similar timeline.

To learn more, check out these flatback turtle hatchling fast facts!

Hatchling swimming. Photo credit SEA LIFE.

Hatchling swimming. Photo credit SEA LIFE.

Copyright © 2017 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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