Time-series data of swimming speed and dive depth were recorded in six female loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta during the internesting period. The dive profiles of all animals indicated that they stayed at particular depths without swimming and that these depths were correlated with dive duration. These results support the hypothesis that lung air is used to achieve neutral buoyancy in the loggerhead turtle. To test this hypothesis, female turtles were equipped with lead weights and time/depth recorders. The residence depth of the turtles increased when their specific gravity was artificially decreased. This indicates that they control depth rather than lung volume, suggesting that the residence depth of loggerhead turtles during the internesting period is not determined actively. They presumably remain at a particular depth exclusively to save energy for egg maturation during the internesting period. Lung volume was estimated from the change in depth of weighted animals to be 50–150 ml kg(−1). The resulting residence depth of all turtles was within the range at which they maintained the neutral buoyancy.
- © 2000 by Company of Biologists