Animal Communication in Turtles

Animal Communication in Turtles
Arrau turtle swimming in a river

An interesting fact of science is that researchers investigate the natural world in terms of human actions. An excellent example of that is our understanding of animal communication. Recent studies have shown that turtles have a rather complex system of communication which researchers have missed because the communication is very low-pitched and quiet. The frequency of the turtle communication is below 20 hertz, putting it below human hearing limitations.

With new listening devices, researchers have found that baby turtles chirp to one another while they are still in their eggs. They discovered this communication in giant South American river turtles called arraus. The apparent purpose is to coordinate their hatching time. When all the baby turtles come out of their eggs at the same time, it dramatically improves their chances of making it to the river before being snatched by a predator. The researchers also found that mother turtles use sounds to respond to the calls of their young and shepherd them to the water.

You can add turtles to the growing list of animal communication with sounds above or below the frequencies that humans can hear. Examples of subsonic or ultrasonic communicators are whales, fish, bats, and numerous birds. God has designed life to have maximum survival potential. Being able to communicate is just one of the tools that animals have been given to enhance that objective.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Lead research author Camila Ferrara of the Wildlife Conservation Society speaking to the Washington Post as reported in The Week magazine, February 3, 2023, page 22.