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Study analyses how many animals can sea turtles carry on their shells


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Loggerhead sea turtles migrate thousands of miles through the world’s oceans, but they don’t travel solo—research shows they carry surprisingly diverse and abundant populations of tiny creatures on their shells.

A paper published in the journal Diversity shows that loggerhead sea turtles carry an average of 34,000 individual meiofauna—tiny organisms smaller than one millimeter—on their backs. One loggerhead carried nearly 150,000 individual animals on its shell, including nematodes, crustacean larvae, and shrimp.

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“There literally is a [whole] world on there,” says Jeroen Ingels, a marine ecologist at Florida State University. It’s wild to find “that kind of diversity on another organism.”

Ingels and his team discovered more than a hundred new species of meiofauna, mostly nematodes, that hadn’t previously been found on loggerheads or other turtles. The team made their findings examining 24 loggerheads that arrived at St. George Island, Florida, in June 2018.

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It was previously known that turtles carried some hitchhikers—but this quantity and degree of diversity hadn’t been seen before, Ingels says.

Studies of these tiny hitchhikers may help researchers trace the travels of these and other sea turtles, since certain meiofauna are unique to specific regions, which could guide future efforts to protect loggerheads. The research may also help explain how the tiny animals move about the ocean, which remains a mystery.

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Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/loggerhead-sea-turtles-carry-thousands-of-hitchhikers

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  • FfFfFfFF changed the title to Study analyses how many animals can sea turtles carry on their shells
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Reginald
5 hours ago, FfFfFfFF said:

 One loggerhead carried nearly 150,000 individual animals on its shell, including nematodes, crustacean larvae, and shrimp.

“There literally is a [whole] world on there,” says Jeroen Ingels, a marine ecologist at Florida State University.

Turtles, all the way down :nooo:

 

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