Published: Feb 07, 2012 4:03 PM EST

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Researchers using satellite tracking have discovered new feeding hotspots in the Gulf of Mexico providing important habitats for at least three separate populations of loggerhead turtles.
The sites are off the coast of Southwest Florida and the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.
A team of scientists intercepted female loggerheads on land and outfitted them with satellite tags at study sites in the Florida Panhandle, Casey Key and Dry Tortugas National Park. They then tracked the females' migrations and used a new method to determine when they had arrived at the two areas.
U.S. Geological Survey researchers said if they can accurately predict where sea turtles will feed, they can focus conservation efforts on prime foraging habitat. Population levels for some of the turtles are well below historic levels.

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