Turtle Talk

Young turtle of Amazon species calls its mother at a low frequency

WHALDENER ENDO/ WIKICOMMONSYoung turtle of Amazon species calls its mother at a low frequencyWHALDENER ENDO/ WIKICOMMONS

All turtle species are indifferent to caring for their offspring, or so it seems. Turtle eggs are buried, and young turtles are abandoned to fend for themselves. But after analyzing more than 380 hours of recordings of sounds made ​​by the Amazon turtle (Podocnemia expansa), Camila Ferrara and Richard Vogt, biologists of the National Institute for Amazonian Research (Inpa), and Renata Sousa-Lima, of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), discovered the first evidence that, at least in this species, mothers are not completely indifferent to the care of their young. The study was published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology. The researchers noted that even before the eggs hatch, baby turtles begin to vocalize and upon entering the river call to the females. Female turtles respond and await them near the beach at the Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve in the state of Pará. Only then do the adults and the young start swimming together in the river towards the areas of flooded forest where they feed. The turtles emit low frequency sounds, which a person nearby who remains still is able to hear. The Amazon turtle is an endangered species because of the consumption of turtle meat by the local population. “It is one of the most social turtle species in the world,” says Ferrara. “There are nights when 300 females leave the water to lay eggs together.”