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  Sea turtles find their way with compass
Updated 12 October 2001, 10.01

Imagine having to find your way as a newly-hatched sea turtle, thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. How do they do it?

Well, according to US scientists young loggerhead turtles, an endangered species, have their own 'compass'.

Fact File
Loggerhead turtles
They are one of only seven species of sea turtles still in existence
Main nesting areas are in south-eastern United States
They carry 120 eggs
They eat conchs, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, fish, squid, octopus, whelks and jellyfish
Protected by the US Endangered Species Act

The turtles were fitted with special tiny swimming suits and put in tanks to see how they reacted to magnetic fields.

Magnetic

They found out the turtles used an internal 'compass' which recognises changes in the Earth's magnetic field and so points them in the right direction.

When they start their amazing journey which can take up to 10 years, they're about five centimetres long and defenceless.

Even as they hatch, they're in danger of being eaten by ghost crabs, raccoons, skunks, foxes, or dogs. In the oceans, they face sea birds, crabs, and carnivorous fishes.

They make the dangerous and long migration swim across the oceans to escape being eaten.


 
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