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Thermal and biochemical characteristics of the lipids of the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea: evidence of endothermy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2009

J. Davenport
Affiliation:
School of Ocean Sciences, University College of North Wales, Marine Science Laboratories, Menai Bridge, Gwynedd, LL59 5EY
D. L. Holland
Affiliation:
School of Ocean Sciences, University College of North Wales, Marine Science Laboratories, Menai Bridge, Gwynedd, LL59 5EY
J. East
Affiliation:
School of Ocean Sciences, University College of North Wales, Marine Science Laboratories, Menai Bridge, Gwynedd, LL59 5EY

Abstract

Unlike other sea turtles, the leatherback Dermochelys coriacea forages widely in temperate waters during summer and dives to abyssal depths (>1000 m) where temperatures are low. There is strong anatomical plus limited physiological evidence in favour of at least facultative endothermy. The lipids of leatherbacks exhibit features which are consistent with maintenance of a core temperature above ambient levels when in cool waters. The lipid of flipper adipose tissue freezes at a lower temperature than lipids extracted from the blubber lining carapace and plastron. Lipid freezing points in leatherbacks are lower than for tropical caimans or terrestrial sheep, but higher than for lipids taken from the blubber of a grey seal. Leatherback adipose tissues show levels of unsaturation in neutral lipid fractions intermediate between those of seals and sheep.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 1990

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Thermal and biochemical characteristics of the lipids of the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea: evidence of endothermy
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