The Caretta carteta(Loggerhead turtles) travels thousands of kilometers around the world. However, it does not travel alone. A study has revealed that there are many surprisingly diverse small creatures on the shell of loggerhead turtles. (Reference article: “Animal Picture Book Loggerhead Turtle”)
According to a paper published in the journal Diversity dated May 20, loggerhead turtles carry an average of 34,000 small benths (Mayofauna: aquatic benth organisms 0.032 to 1 mm long) on their backs. A loggerhead turtle carried about 150,000 creatures, including nematodes, crustacean larvae, and shrimp.
“There’s literally a ‘world’. I’m excited to see this diversity on top of living things,” says Jerne Ingels, a marine ecologist at Florida State University.
Ingels’ team has found more than 100 small benthic animals that had not been previously found on turtles such as loggerhead turtles. Most of them are nematodes. A survey of 24 loggerhead turtles on St George’s Island in Florida in June 2018 led to the discovery.
According to Ingels, it has been known for some time that turtles are hitchhiking. However, it was not understood that there were a number and diversity so far.
Some small benthic animals are only in certain areas, so studying these small hitchhikers may help track sea turtle movement and protect future loggerhead turtles. It is also not well understood how microbiotas move through the sea, but it can lead to a clarification of the species.