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Aquatic Biology

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AB 12:197-204 (2011)  -  DOI:

Validation of annual skeletal marks in green sea turtles Chelonia mydas using tetracycline labeling

Melissa L. Snover1,3, Aleta A. Hohn2, Lisa R. Goshe2, George H. Balazs1

1National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
2NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA-Beaufort Lab,
101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
3Present address: Denali National Park and Preserve, PO Box 9, Denali Park, Alaska 99755, USA

ABSTRACT: The technique of skeletochronology has been widely applied to age and growth studies of most species of sea turtles, although direct validation of annual growth marks has only been demonstrated for loggerheads Caretta caretta and Kemp's ridleys Lepidochelys kempii. In this study we present validation of annual growth mark deposition in green sea turtles Chelonia mydas. Fourteen green sea turtles, previously captured in nearshore waters in the main Hawaiian Islands and injected with oxytetracycline (OTC), were recovered stranded, and the humeri were prepared for skeletochronological analysis. Each sea turtle had received a single dose of 25 mg kg–1 OTC, with half injected into each pectoral muscle. Seven of these sea turtles either were not at large long enough or did not grow enough for either the OTC mark to be discernable in bone cross-sections or for a growth mark to have been deposited after the OTC mark. Based on the hypothesis of one mark per year, the expected number of growth marks was visible exterior to the OTC mark in the humeri of the 7 remaining sea turtles, providing strong validation that growth marks are annual. These results support the use of skeletochronology for age and growth rate estimates in green sea turtles and the need for validation to ensure accurate interpretation of growth marks.

KEY WORDS: Fluorescent marks · Skeletochronology · Age · Growth marks

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Cite this article as: Snover ML, Hohn AA, Goshe LR, Balazs GH (2011) Validation of annual skeletal marks in green sea turtles Chelonia mydas using tetracycline labeling. Aquat Biol 12:197-204.

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