Technology & Science·Video

Leatherback sea turtles fitted with cameras hunt for jellyfish

Scientists affixed custom-made cameras to the shells of 26 leatherback sea turtles off the northern coast of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

1st-ever footage of its kind obtained by Canadian scientists

Video from 'turtle cam' records sea turtles diving up to 40 metres to capture their prey 2:07

Endangered leatherback sea turtles live mysterious lives and, until now, scientists had little knowledge of how they spend their time in the open ocean. But a team of Canadian researchers has managed to get a turtle's-eye-view of leatherback behaviour.

The footage could be crucial to help save the species from extinction.

Over eight summers, scientists affixed custom-made, GPS-equipped cameras with suction cups to the shells of 26 leatherback sea turtles off the northern coast of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. After many failed attempts, they recently unveiled the first-ever footage of a leatherback diving to nearly 40 metres and hunting for jellyfish — all from the turtle's perspective. 

“It was very complicated work, so it took a lot of tries before we got it. The first time we got the video it was tremendously exciting for everyone,” said Kathleen Martin with the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, one of the groups involved in the study. 

Previously, researchers could only track leatherbacks from satellites, and had very little insight into the specific details of what the massive turtles were doing off Canada's East Coast. 

Leatherbacks are prone to getting caught in fishing nets and lobster lines, and the team hopes that their footage will help to develop strategies to keep the turtles safe from human interference. 

Check out the video for a full report from CBC's Carolyn Ray. 


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