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Energetics of swimming of a sea turtle
H. D. Prange


Young (mean mass 735 g) green turtles (Chelonia mydas) were able to swim in a water channel at sustained speeds between 0–14 and 0–35 m.s-1. Oxygen consumption at rest was was 0–07 l.kg-1.h-1; at maximum swimming speed oxygen consumption was 3–4 times greater than at rest for a given individual. In comparison with other animals of the same body mass the cost of transport for the green turtle (0.186lO2.kg-1.km-1) is less than that for flying birds but greater than that for fish. From drag measurements it was calculated that the aerobic efficiency of swimming was between 1 and 10%; the higher efficiencies were found at the higher swimming speeds. Based upon the drag calculations for young turtles, it is estimated that adult turtles making the round-trip breeding migration between Brazil and Ascension Island (4800 km) would require the equivalent of about 21% of their body mass in fat stores to account for the energetic cost of swimming.