In the freshwaters of Belize, you may spot the Central American River Turtle known as the Hicatee.
While conducting a study of movement and home ranges, Drs. Day Ligon and Donald McKnight, along with colleagues Denise Thompson and Jaren Serano, noticed how Hicatee turtles move in groups through the water.
This was very surprising, as turtles are generally believed to be nonsocial.
Upon making this discovery, Ligon and McKnight changed course and set their sights on learning more about this very strange behavior of the Hicatee.
Coming out of their shells
This newly observed behavior of the Hicatees had Ligon and McKnight scratching their heads.
“We were tracking their positions up and down a river, and we started noticing they were next to each other,” McKnight said. “There were a few noteworthy times where we were behind a group of turtles while tracking them, and the whole group would seem to move downriver together.
“In other cases, one turtle would move several kilometers up or down the river and stop right beside one of the other individuals we were tracking. So, we kept seeing all these things that were suggestive of social behavior.”
The team was able to cross off other possible…