New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Supplemental Materials
  • Comments/Replies

Lost? Ask a Turtle

Navigation and Migration in Loggerheads


Giovanni Casotti
Department of Biology
West Chester University


This case study examines the events surrounding the hatching and migration of loggerhead sea turtles, specifically what mechanisms they use to head towards the ocean (once hatched) and where and how they migrate once in the ocean.  The story is written from the point of view of two hatchlings as they crack through their shells, dig out of the sand, and travel at night along the beach into the ocean.  Once they survive this peril, they make their way to the deep ocean and the North Atlantic current, migrating along it, until decades later the female makes her way back to the same beach to lay her eggs and begin the cycle anew.  The case details how loggerheads navigate these vast distances with seemingly no navigational cues.  The case also explores how other long-distance migratory species such as birds and seals migrate along similar vast distances. Originally written for a Masters-level class in biology called "Case Studies in Physiology," the case could easily be used or modified for senior or even undergraduate level biology-majors course.

  • Understand the different mechanisms that juvenile and adult turtles use to navigate.
  • Understand mechanisms used by seals and birds to navigate.
  • Describe and understand navigation strategy differences between aquatic and terrestrial animals.
  • Understand the physiology explaining how geomagnetic, celestial, acoustic, and olfactory cues operate in navigation.
Keywords: Migration; migratory pathways; North Atlantic gyre; navigation; loggerhead turtles; hatchlings
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Journal Article
Language: English
Subject Headings: Physiology   Anatomy   Biology (General)   Ecology   Ecology   Marine Science / Oceanography  
Date Posted: 4/25/2014
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key

Supplemental Materials

This case includes a PowerPoint presentation (file below) that provides students with an overview on the physiology of animal navigation.

  Overview of Animal Navigation

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: