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Loggerhead Turtle

Marine scientists recently launched a pilot study to track the elusive loggerhead turtle. Even though loggerheads are the most common sea turtle in U.S. coastal waters, they're still listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The researchers -- from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Atlantic sea scallop fishing industry -- tagged two juvenile loggerheads off the New Jersey coast with satellite relay tags. The tags transmit data on the turtles' location, depth, surrounding water temperature, and time of day.

That's crucial information, especially for juvenile loggerheads. Juveniles are the turtles most commonly caught in fishing nets and scallop dredges.

The Atlantic sea scallop fishing industry, along with helping to fund the study, also provided a fishing vessel called Kathy Anne that enabled scientists to spot 50 loggerheads by watching them from the ship's crows' nest. With each loggerhead sighting, the researchers launched a robotic underwater vehicle to follow the turtles and learn more about how they interact with the ocean bottom and with each other.

Understanding the loggerhead turtle's behavior could help conservationists, scientists and fishermen alike, to preserve them.

Learn more about loggerhead turtles and how you can get involved in conservation efforts.

Script by Gail Davis