What does the giant river turtle say?

C. Ferrara/Wildlife Conservation Society

What does the giant river turtle say?

Once per dry season in Brazil, based on some unseen cue, female giant South American river turtles decide that it’s time to leave the Amazon River to lay their eggs. Clambering ashore in single file, with impressive coordination they spread out across the beach to dig their sandy nests. The apparent secret to the threatened species’ teamwork: good communication. After analyzing 220 hours of audio recordings of turtles in the wild, researchers found six different types of vocalization, all audible to the human ear, which were correlated with specific behaviors, such as gathering together, or waiting for hatchlings to enter the Amazon. Baby turtles also seem to talk to each other while hatching, possibly coordinating their first migration to the river, the research team reports in the latest issue of the quarterly journal Herpetologica. The study provides the first evidence that turtles use vocalizations to synchronize group activities and rear their young, the group says.

To hear samples of the turtle vocalizations, click below:

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