A non-invasive system to measure heart rate in hard-shelled sea turtles: potential for field applications

Published on Aug 2, 2021in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B5.68
· DOI :10.1098/RSTB.2020.0222
Kentaro Q. Sakamoto16
Estimated H-index: 16
(UTokyo: University of Tokyo)
Sources
Abstract
To measure the heart rate of unrestrained sea turtles, it has been believed that a probe must be inserted inside the body owing to the presence of the shell. However, inserting the probe is invasive and difficult to apply to animals in the field. Here, we have developed a non-invasive heart rate measurement method for some species of sea turtles. In our approach, an electrocardiogram (ECG) was performed using an animal-borne ECG recorder and two electrodes-which were electrically insulated from seawater-pasted on the carapace. Based on the measured ECG, the heartbeat signals were identified with an algorithm using a band-pass filter. We implemented this algorithm in a user-friendly program package, ECGtoHR. In experiments conducted in a water tank and in a lagoon, we successfully measured the heart rate of loggerhead, olive ridley and black turtles, but not green and hawksbill turtles. The average heart rate of turtles when resting underwater was 6.2 ± 1.9 beats min-1 and that when moving at the surface was 14.0 ± 2.4 beats min-1. Our approach is particularly suitable for endangered species such as sea turtles, and has the potential to be extended to a variety of other free-ranging species. This article is part of the theme issue 'Measuring physiology in free-living animals (Part I)'.
References24
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