Surfacers change their dive tactics depending on the aim of the dive: evidence from simultaneous measurements of breaths and energy expenditure

Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Nov 22;281(1795):20140040. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0040.


Air-breathing divers are assumed to have evolved to apportion their time between surface and underwater periods to maximize the benefit gained from diving activities. However, whether they change their time allocation depending on the aim of the dive is still unknown. This may be particularly crucial for 'surfacers' because they dive for various purposes in addition to foraging. In this study, we counted breath events at the surface and estimated oxygen consumption during resting, foraging and other dives in 11 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the wild. Breath events were counted by a head-mounted acceleration logger or direct observation based on an animal-borne video logger, and oxygen consumption was estimated by measuring overall dynamic body acceleration. Our results indicate that green turtles maximized their submerged time, following this with five to seven breaths to replenish oxygen for resting dives. However, they changed their dive tactic during foraging and other dives; they surfaced without depleting their estimated stores of oxygen, followed by only a few breaths for effective foraging and locomotion. These dichotomous surfacing tactics would be the result of behavioural modifications by turtles depending on the aim of each dive.

Keywords: Chelonia mydas; biologging; diving physiology; metabolism; respiratory; sea turtle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diving*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Japan
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Turtles / physiology*