Olfactory-Based Orientation in Artificially Imprinted Sea Turtles

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Science  06 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4644, pp. 83-84
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4644.83


Sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempi) are being artificially imprinted to Padre Island, Texas, in an effort to establish a new nesting population. These turtles spent more time per exposure in solutions made of Padre Island sand and seawater than in control solutions in a multiple-choice test. This is evidence that sea turtles may detect differences in natural water samples and remember olfactory cues to which they were exposed neonatally and that these differences may affect their orientation behavior. This suggests that imprinting could be used as a conservation technique for establishing new breeding populations of endangered sea turtles.