Tuesdays with Turtles – Right Flipperedness Edition

Across a population studied by scientists, more turtles preferred to use their right rear flipper rather than their left when laying eggs.The result, published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, is the first time a species of turtle has found to prefer one limb over another.The discovery adds to growing evidence that even lower vertebrates prefer to use one side of the body more often.Such preference is known by scientists as a “lateralised functional behaviour”, and it usually indicates that an animal's brain function is also lateralised, with one side of the brain dominating control of certain tasks.

via BBC – Earth News – Turtles are ‘right-flippered’.

Ha, just when you thought Tuesdays with Turtles was gone, it is Tuesday (here in Canada) and a sea turtle post. Turns out, leatherbacks, the biggest of ths sea turtles and critically endangered tend to be right flippered while on land and laying eggs. A slight predilection to right sidedness runs all the way down to reptiles. It is 54%-46%, which does not seem like much, but the report indicates that among humans, it is the same once you control for a cultural right hand bias!

Anyway, got to love those sexy beasts, even if they’re right flippered, right Ned?


Tuesdays with Turtles – Wednesday Hook Edition

WWF – Fishing Technology That’s Letting Turtles Off the Hook –

Turns out that a small change in hook design can save a lot of turtles from getting caught in longline hooks. But the story’s not really about the shape of the hook. I’ve written about this before. The issue is rarely one of technology. The solutions have been developed and exist because a lot of work has gone into developing technological solutions. Implementation on the ground (or sea!) has lagged because it is much harder to effect change where it counts when you attempt to impose technology in a top-down fashion. Small scale fishers (new english here, to avoid the whole fishermen/fisherwoman/fisherperson nonsense, take out the gender specific suffix to every occupation describing verb! – Try it, it’s not weldman, or plumbwoman!) are in a world of hurt with declining fish stocks and widespread fisheries piracy by the so called “developed world”. Without developing and implementing the solution with the full participation of the people who have the most potential to be affected, the change will not be successful.

What did the WWF do differently this time?

Together with fishermen we are building a culture for sustainable fishing practices that will guarantee fish stocks in the long term

They emphasized the people, not the solution. And the results were great, 90% reduction in turtle catch, >95% of the turtles caught were released safely, and the fish yields were not affected. Everyone wins, right?

Good stuff. Those turtles are still endangered and we’ll run out of wild edible fish in 50 years, but hey, more like this and there’s a bit of hope.

Tuesdays with Turtles – Triumphant Return

So, blogging has been light this summer as Olive Ridley’s partner made her way to Canada and is settling in. Also, it is summer in BC and beautiful as hell, so the prospect of sitting down and typing on a computer with brains that are only half working, well, ain’t so hot! Also, Canada is just a much calmer place than the U.S. As I looked back at my many posts, most of them are bitter fulminations against American politics or the various shenanigans of the Emperor. Anyway, I am not under his rule any more, and while he’s gutting the Endangered Species Act as we speak, he will be history soon.

While Canadian policy debates are equally interesting, they are generally civil in comparison, except the occasional kerfluffle where old white men want their female opponents to go back to making tea, charming…

Anyway, I felt the blogging itch again and as always, it’s nice to get back with a story about turtles.

Researchers say they have figured out why sea turtles that normally feed and breed in shallow water or on land will, very rarely, go deep sea diving: the reptiles are on reconnaissance.

Sea Turtles Dive to Depths for Reconnaissance : Discovery News

Leatherbacks have amazing diving capabilities and can get up to a kilometre below the surface. Why? for food, of course! More precisely, the promise of future food. Turns out that jellyfish (or jellyfish like animals) hang out in the deep during day time and surface at night. Leatherbacks go looking for them during the daytime down in the deeps so they can get them on the surface for dinner. It’s akin to you taking a leisurely walk around downtown looking for the perfect dinner spot.

Interesting. As always, very fascinating and sexy creatures, and critically endangered.

Expect more regularly scheduled blogging just in time for the late summer sweeps!