You see the hatchlings as they dig out of the nests all small and helpless and make a beeline towards the sea. You see the adult female as she comes back to lay her eggs. You see adult males when you go snorkeling , but the juveniles had kept a low profile, until now…
Once sea-turtle hatchlings hit the surf, they vanish for up to five years. Where the half-dollar-size tots spend these ‘lost years’ while ballooning to the size of dinner plates has been a mystery, until now.
New research, published in the online edition of the journal Biology Letters, indicates the green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) hide out in the open ocean, where they feast on jellyfish and other marine creatures.
Turns out that they’ve been “hiding out” in the open ocean eating meat to augment their vegetarian adult diet. I have not seen the paper (reference below), but the study was based on an analysis of their shell content. Carbon and Nitrogen isotope analysis was used as a marker for diet and location.
Kimberly J. Reich, Karen A. Bjorndal, Alan B. Bolten
Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, Department of Zoology, PO Box 118525, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA