Can There Be Too Much Flow Rate For Aquatic Turtles How Do Turtle Eggs Breath?

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How Do Turtle Eggs Breath?

A sea turtle nest prefers to have a few inches (15 cm or more) to a yard (1 meter) of sand below the surface. Temperature moderates as depth increases both in terms of absolute value and diurnal variation. The water content of the sand remains stable at the depth of the nest, although the sand dries near the surface. The main problem for a brood of eggs is to obtain enough oxygen to carry out metabolism and to get rid of the carbon dioxide produced by respiration. Oxygen is carried in the air and sand surrounding the nest to the clutch in the nest by a process known as diffusion. Carbon dioxide is discharged in the same way.

Fick’s law of diffusion defines the process. The movement of material by diffusion depends on the driving force that exists between the region of high concentration and the region of low concentration and the resistance of the path between the source and the sink. In the case of a turtle nest, sand provides the greatest resistance because the eggshell is relatively porous for gas flow. In some cases, oxygen can drop from 20.9% in the air to 20.4% in the sand due to the metabolism of the bacteria in the sand and to 12 – 14% in the middle of the litter just before hatching. However, the oxygen level in the clutch is similar to the alveoli in the human lungs.

One of the reasons leatherbacks lay their eggs during the dry season is that the dry layer that forms on the surface of the sand helps to transfer gases more easily between the air and the nest. Olive Ridley nests on arribada beaches suffer from low oxygen levels due to the high density of nests on the beach and the decay of eggs broken during arribadas.

It’s amazing that sea turtle eggs can survive buried 10 – 36 centimeters under the sand. Oxygen must diffuse from the air down into the sand and into the egg. Carbon dioxide must move in the opposite direction. A developing sea turtle embryo breathes through its carapace, just like a chicken embryo, which has the same oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations in its carapace as in human lungs. Sea turtle eggs have similar internal gas concentrations, but there is a difference. A turtle’s eggshell is very porous, which facilitates the movement of gases, while a chicken’s eggshell is very resistant. Gas concentrations in a sea turtle egg are determined by the rate at which air can move through the sand into the egg. Oxygen is filtered through almost three meters of sand, through the pores between the sand grains, then between the eggs in the litter and finally into the eggs in the middle of the litter. The main obstacle is the speed of air movement between the sand grains. This three-meter layer of sand essentially acts like a chicken’s eggshell or human air passes into the lungs. It serves as an airway for sea turtle eggs.

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