Journey North News

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Update:

February 7, 1996

Hello Students!

Right now, as you sit comfortably in your classrooms, our four loggerhead sea turtles are swimming somewhere in the ocean. But these four loggerheads are not alone, because they are being watched by New York scientists Ed Standora and Steve Morreale of SUNY College and Cornell University. The scientists began tracking the turtles last October when they netted them and equipped them with satellite transmitters. The turtles have been sending out signals ever since--and now you'll get a chance to chart their journeys and explore their undersea world too!

Loggerhead sea turtles are like living fossils, having roamed the oceans to far-away places for five million years. They weigh up to 300 pounds and have powerful jaws and huge heads--that's how they got their name!

Standora and Morreale know where the loggerheads are, and are watching these turtles every paddle of the way! Can you locate them? Do you know where these loggerheads are?

The four loggerheads' most recent data points are provided below:

Turtle #9037

Feb. 1: 33.777N, 76.364W or 43.345N,28.835W

Feb. 2: 34.616N, 75.778W or 35.238N,72.840W

Feb. 3: 34.354N, 76.053W or 45.661N,18.757W

Feb. 4: 34.444N, 75.815W or 37.246N,62.350W

Turtle #9038

No data received.)

Turtle #9039

Feb. 1: 38.290N, 62.320W or 50.528N,128.611W

Feb. 2: 38.146N, 62.038W or 42.807N, 39.252W

Feb. 3: 37.958N, 62.110W or 43.708N, 33.874W

Feb. 4: 38.222N, 61.923W or 35.194N, 76.734W

Turtle #11462

Feb. 1: 33.378N, 77.791W or 41.321N,117.028W

Feb. 2: 33.352N, 78.045W or 39.108N,106.370W

Feb. 2: 33.312N, 78.113W or 24.656N,117.975W

Feb. 3: 33.191N, 78.422W or 25.823N,112.443W

You'll notice that, with each reading, there are two sets of latitude and longitude coordinates. This is because the satellite receives two readings as it passes over the turtle--but only ONE of the reading tells the accurate location. Therefore, you must figure out which of the readings is correct, just as the scientists must do. (We'll tell you more about how these satellite work in a future report.)

You may not know it, but it takes very sophisticated of technology to get the transmitter signals from the turtle to the satellite and then to you. We asked Dr. Standora how the satellite receives the turtles' signals and this is what he said:

"To get a signal three things must occur simultaneously:

(1) The transmitter must be in 'transmit' mode (but it's on only eight hours a day to conserve battery power).

(2) The turtle must be at the surface to breathe.

(3) The satellite must be orbiting above the turtle. ARGOS satellites are in a polar orbit so coverage is poorest at lower latitudes."

Classroom Activities

1. As a class, discuss what "No Data Received" might mean. Make a list of all the possible explanations you can think of.

2. Your Turtle Task is to find the turtles:

(1) Find or make a map of the ocean in which these turtles are located.

(2) For each turtle, plot both sets of latitude and longitude data for each day.

(3) Decide which of the two locations you think is accurate on each day. Then mark the accurate location on your map.

3. Why do loggerhead sea turtles migrate? This would be a good time to begin "Life Cycle Sleuth". (See Lesson 5.1 on page 73 of the Teacher's Manual.)

The Next Loggerhead Sea Turtle Update Will be Posted on February 14, 1996.

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