Sometimes, it might be difficult to track down and study endangered species, such as turtles. Therefore, a team of researchers from the UK found a unique way to monitor their movements. Instead of intervening in their environment and disturbing their natural balance, they used a tracking method worthy of criminal investigations.
Researchers used forensic methods to track turtles down
Researchers observed how many turtles gathered in Cyprus to breed, but they knew these animals came from a long way. Therefore, they needed to find an effective method to track down their migration routes, and find out what foraging grounds they originated from. Therefore, they decided to try satellite tracking, and make use of criminal-monitoring technologies.
Forensic researchers often use stable isotope ratios to track down the movements performed by criminals, and this method usually proved effective. Therefore, the researchers from the University of Exeter borrowed this technique.
This way, they could identify Lake Bardawil, a formation in northern Egypt, as the main turtle foraging ground. Then, these turtles went on to migrate to Cyprus, and reach the main breeding area in the country, Alagadi.
This criminal-tracking method answered many questions regarding the turtle populations
Researchers kept using satellite tracking for a few years, but they still overlooked many important turtle foraging areas. They put up a list of several areas they had previously identified, and then compared them with the isotope ratios collected from the turtles. This is how they discovered how several ratios didn’t match any of the foraging areas on the list.
Therefore, researchers selected five of these turtles with different isotope ratios, and monitored them individually. After tracking down their movements, they saw how all of them went to Lake Bardawil in Egypt. This way, scientists found out how reliable this criminal tracking could be when monitoring the movements of turtles.