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ESR 48:31-41 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01185

First evidence of underwater vocalizations in green sea turtles Chelonia mydas

Isabelle Charrier1,*, Lorène Jeantet2, Léo Maucourt1, Sidney Régis3, Nicolas Lecerf3, Abdelwahab Benhalilou4, Damien Chevallier3

1Institut des Neurosciences Paris-Saclay, CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, 91405 Orsay, France
2Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, UMR 7178 CNRS/Unistra, 67087 Strasbourg, France
3BOREA Research Unit, MNHN, CNRS 7208, Sorbonne Université, IRD 207, UCN, UA, 75231 Paris, France
4Association POEMM, 73 Lot Papayers, Anse à l’Âne, 97229 Les Trois Îlets, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine turtles have long been considered to be silent, but few investigations have been performed to confirm such muteness. However, recent studies on the aerial and underwater hearing abilities of marine turtles have shown they have an ability to perceive sounds, suggesting the potential existence of acoustic communication among them. In the present study, audio-video recorders were deployed on 11 free-ranging juvenile green sea turtles Chelonia mydas at Grande Anse d’Arlet in Martinique. The recordings revealed that the turtles produced 10 different sound types that were classified into 4 main categories: pulses, low-amplitude calls (LAC), frequency-modulated sounds, and squeaks. Although other turtles were not observed in close proximity to tagged turtles during the recordings, some of the described sounds were found in most recorded individuals and their frequency characteristics ranged within the underwater hearing range of green sea turtles, suggesting that the sounds could be used for intra-specific communication. While control recordings in the study area without the presence of green sea turtles contained sounds with similar general structure (pulses, LAC), the acoustic characteristics were significantly different to those recorded for green sea turtles. The 2 types of squeaks identified for the turtles were found to be individual-specific, also suggesting they could be used for intra-species communication. Further research on sea turtles is needed to better understand the behavioral and social context of these acoustic productions, especially during the developmental period and breeding season. Thus, the vocal repertoire of green sea turtles is likely to be more diverse than that currently described.


KEY WORDS: Underwater sound · Green sea turtle · Chelonians · Individual stereotypy · Martinique


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Cite this article as: Charrier I, Jeantet L, Maucourt L, Régis S, Lecerf N, Benhalilou A, Chevallier D (2022) First evidence of underwater vocalizations in green sea turtles Chelonia mydas. Endang Species Res 48:31-41. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01185

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