The study showed that turtles have little idea where they are swimming

Scientists installed GPS trackers on 22 hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and explored routes

movement of these animals. It turned out that turtles return to feeding grounds after mating and breeding in a roundabout way.

For example, one turtle overcame a totaldifficulty of 1306 km to find the island, which was only 176 km from the starting point. The researchers found that, as a rule, the animals swam around a lot before they were able to settle on land again. On average, as the study showed, the path that the turtles swam from the mating place to the feeding areas turned out to be twice as long as the shortest one.

Traces of the movement of turtles to feeding places (indicated by an asterisk). Image: Hays et al., Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Sea turtles are well known for theirthe ability to migrate great distances across the ocean, stopping at small and isolated islands located far from other places. Previous research has shown that turtles "feel" the Earth's magnetic field and can use it to navigate.

The authors of the new work note that the possibilitiesmagnetic navigation is actually significantly limited: the "geomagnetic map" turns out to be quite rough and with low resolution. In an interview with The Guardian, Professor Graeme Hayes, co-author of the study at Deakin University, noted that magnetic navigation does not help animals plot a direct route, but rather tells them when they are far away from the route.

Scientists note that the behavior and navigation ofturtles are very different from the behavior of some seabirds, which also use the magnetic field for orientation. Birds, as a rule, find the right direction much faster. Scientists believe that birds use scent to correct their route, while sea turtles don't have that extra sensory input.

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