Baby Turtles Speak to Coordinate Hatching

As a species, turtles have been considered to be both silent and deaf, only making simple noises during nesting. However, recent evidence has shown that 47 different turtle species are using sounds to communicate for both reproductive benefits and social interactions

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Oscillogram and spectrogram of all types of sounds recorded (window type: hamming; window size: type I FFT  =  256; type II, III, and IV FFT  =  512 points) in the vocal repertoire of Dermochelys coriacea.

Oscillogram and spectrogram of all types of sounds recorded (window type: hamming; window size: type I FFT  =  256; type II, III, and IV FFT  =  512 points) in the vocal repertoire of Dermochelys cori

Noise pollution is of major concern to conservationists. Sounds made by motorized water vehicles, which could drown out the hatchlings in their nests, could detrimentally affect the hatching process and overall survival of the baby turtles.

Lawrence, KS (PRWEB) July 17, 2014

Chelonian Conservation and Biology – As a species, turtles have been considered to be both silent and deaf, only making simple noises during nesting. However, recent evidence has shown that 47 different turtle species are using sounds to communicate for both reproductive benefits and social interactions.

Originally turtles were assumed to only produce small noises during the nesting period. The article “First Evidence of Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) Embryos and Hatchlings Emitting Sounds,” in the journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology discusses a recent study on the Barra de La Cruz Beach, in Oaxaca, Mexico which shows that after 51 days, over 300 sounds began emanating from 12 nests. These sounds were so individualized that they were classified into 4 types.

The 4 sound types ranged from pulses to harmonics to nonharmonic frequencies, as well as complex hybrid tones. Although the less complex sounds were considered to be respiratory or grunting sounds, the more complex hybrid tone was thought to be part of a larger social interaction network. Since the sounds were captured at 51 days after incubation, researchers believe that the baby turtles were coordinating synchronized hatching through these tones.

Synchronized hatching shows an advanced method of survival and also shows a vocal communication system attributed to a species previously deemed deaf and mute. Noise pollution is of major concern to conservationists. Sounds made by motorized water vehicles, which could drown out the hatchlings in their nests, could detrimentally affect the hatching process and overall survival of the baby turtles.

Full text of the article, “First Evidence of Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) Embryos and Hatchlings Emitting Sounds,” Chelonian Conservation and Biology, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2014, is available at http://www.chelonianjournals.org/doi/full/10.2744/CCB-1045.1.
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About the Chelonian Conservation and Biology

Chelonian Conservation and Biology is a scientific international journal of turtle and tortoise research. Its objective is to share any aspects of research on turtles and tortoises. Of special interest are articles dealing with conservation biology, systematic relationships, chelonian diversity, geographic distribution, natural history, ecology, reproduction, morphology and natural variation, population status, husbandry, community conservation initiatives, and human exploitation or conservation management issues. For more information, please visit http://www.chelonian.org/ccb/.


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