ESR 24:159-170 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00597

Use of a towed camera system to investigate benthic habitat use by inter-nesting female hawksbill sea turtles

J. Walcott1,*, S. Eckert2, H. A. Oxenford3, J. A. Horrocks1 

1Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, PO Box 64, Bridgetown BB11000, Barbados
2Department of Biology and Natural Resources, Principia College, Elsah, IL 62028, USA
3Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, PO Box 64, Bridgetown BB11000, Barbados
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The types of marine benthic habitats utilised by hawksbill sea turtles Eretmochelys imbricata nesting at Needham’s Point, Barbados, were investigated using an underwater drop camera. Habitats used preferentially (i.e. those within high-use areas) tended to be high relief and densely covered with biota, characterised by high abundance of hard corals and shallower than less frequented areas. These structurally complex habitats offered opportunities for rest and refuge, but not for foraging, with females showing no preference for sites with high sponge abundance. Females appeared to trade off site quality (i.e. based on benthic relief, cover and species composition) against the energy expended to get there, travelling long distances (up to 21.2 km) to higher-quality sites.


KEY WORDS: Eretmochelys imbricata · Inter-nesting interval · Benthic habitat use · Underwater video


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Cite this article as: Walcott J, Eckert S, Oxenford HA, Horrocks JA (2014) Use of a towed camera system to investigate benthic habitat use by inter-nesting female hawksbill sea turtles. Endang Species Res 24:159-170. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00597

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