A study has revealed the diet of green turtles is more complex than previouslythought, providing insights which could influence conservation and managementstrategies.
University of Queensland PhD student Owen Coffee said mature green turtlescontinued to snack on jellyfish and small invertebrates, and did not switchsolely to a plant-based diet.
“It was thought they went from being carnivores after their juveniledevelopment period in the south Pacific open ocean,” Mr Coffee said.
“This study has revealed their longer-term diets reflect the availability offood.
“A large proportion of the turtles sampled had supplemented plant materialwith animal material, likely jellyfish and ctenophores, when they wereavailable.”
Mr Coffee said green turtles spent between six and 10 years at sea beforearriving at near-shore foraging regions.
“They remain at these sites for the rest of their lives, leaving onlyintermittently to mate once they reach sexual maturity.”
The study, coinciding with World Turtle Day (23 May), examined diets offoraging green turtles at three sites at Port Curtis in Central Queensland.
The sites included discrete ‘home’ areas in reef habitats and sandy seagrassmeadows.
The researchers studied the gullet contents of the animals before safelyreleasing them.
Turtles were recorded eating 30 different food items, categorised as mangrove,seagrass, red algae, brown algae, green algae, animal material or other itemsincidentally ingested.
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