ESR 3:283-293 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00054

Trends in catch rates of sea turtles in North Carolina, USA

Sheryan P. Epperly1,*, Joanne Braun-McNeill2, Paul M. Richards1

1NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Dr., Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 101 Pivers Island Rd., Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

ABSTRACT: Sea turtles captured in pound nets during the autumn and early winter in the Pamlico-Albermarle Estuarine Complex, North Carolina, USA, were sampled 1995–1997 and 2001–2003 to monitor trends in catch rates during their autumn emigration from the temperate sounds. Juvenile loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta were the most frequent species encountered, followed by green turtles Chelonia mydas and Kemp’s ridley turtles Lepidochelys kempii. Several different subpopulations with origins throughout the western North Atlantic were represented on these foraging grounds. The catch rates of loggerhead turtles increased significantly at a rate of 13% yr–1. Despite annual increases in the major contributing nesting beach populations in excess of 10% yr–1, we did not detect a trend in catch rates for either green or Kemp’s ridley turtles, perhaps due to low statistical power. There was a significant increase in size of loggerhead turtles over time. We also detected a significant difference in annual size distributions of green and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, but there was no discernable pattern. We conclude that long-term studies on the sea turtles’ foraging grounds, at multiple sites, are needed to monitor the status of sea turtle populations.


KEY WORDS: Sea turtles · Caretta · Chelonia · Lepidochelys · Catch rates · Trends


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Cite this article as: Epperly SP, Braun-McNeill J, Richards PM (2007) Trends in catch rates of sea turtles in North Carolina, USA. Endang Species Res 3:283-293

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