Lifespans of marine turtle species range from 50 to 90 years

October 14th, 2020

Ben Mayne, FSP early career researcher is lead author on a recently published paper which predicts the lifespans of marine turtle species using just their DNA.

A flatback turtle digging a nest on a snad dune.

The predicted lifespan of the Flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus) 50.4 years. Credit: © Commonwealth of Australia (GBRMPA)

Maximum lifespan is difficult to determine for wild animal populations, especially for long-lived species.

Estimating lifespans of marine turtle species is especially difficult because not only do they live a long time, but also migrate vast distances throughout the world’s oceans.

Last year, Ben and colleagues published research showing it is possible to predict the lifespan of a species if you know the DNA sequences of its genome.

They have now applied this technique to five marine turtle species, discovering their lifespans and bypassing the need to study these species over many years.

This work involved a team of researchers from CSIRO, University of Western Australia and Government of Western Australia.