Sea turtle hatchlings can distinguish between coastal and oceanic seawaters

Gabriel Soeiro, Eduardo Mendes da Silva, Antoine O.H.C. Leduc*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following their emergence on land, sea turtle hatchlings need to travel through the open ocean. Whether hatchlings can detect ecologically and functionally relevant chemical cues released in the marine habitat is unknown.We collected seawater at 6 and 27 km off the Brazilian coast, i.e. within and beyond the continental shelf. In a two-choice flume, we exposed post-emergent (<24 h old) loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles to these seawaters. Based on their life history, we posited that if hatchlings could distinguish between the seawater from these regions, they should prefer the oceanic seawater and/or avoid the coastal seawater. Hatchlings were tested singly and could access any parts of the flume. We recorded the seawater plume first visited and the time spent in each plume. Of all the first choices and time spent in a plume, nearly 70% involved the oceanic seawater. The ability of hatchlings to distinguish between seawaters could provide goal-recognition information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb244702
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2022


  • Chelonian ecology
  • Chemoreception
  • Experimental ecology
  • Goal recognition
  • Seascape
  • Sensory ecology
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Brazil
  • Turtles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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