Marine biologists have discovered that the Canary Islands provide an important nursery for growing Loggerhead sea turtles.
A study by Spanish and British university researchers revealed that the North Atlantic turtles use the islands as an important place to grow and mature into adulthood.
Between 1999 and 2009, researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Exeter University placed GPS trackers on 24 turtles and followed their habits for periods between one month and three years. The turtles travelled up to 4,307 kilometres (2,676 miles), and 21 of them remained in an area between the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the north of Cape Verde. Three turtles made their journey back to the Americas, two to the Caribbean and one visited Terranova.
The study showed the turtles spent most of their time in deep ocean water, though they would only dive for six minutes at a time and only to depths of six meters (6.6 yards).
The study concluded that the Canary Islands were concluded to be a “vital” place for young turtles to prepare for their return trip across the ocean. Researchers have asked that special measures be taken to protect the area, as it may help recover the species, which is considered to be close to extinction.