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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 3:159-168 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/esr003159

Increase in hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata nesting in Barbados, West Indies

Jennifer A. Beggs1,2,*, Julia A. Horrocks1, Barry H. Krueger1

1Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados BB11000, West Indies
2Present address: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34326, USA

ABSTRACT: Nesting by hawksbill sea turtles Eretmochelys imbricata in Barbados, West Indies, has been monitored since 1992. Data from the index beach indicate that the number of nests may have increased as much as 8-fold over this period. The estimated abundance of nesting females on Barbados is 1250, suggesting that this eastern Caribbean island now hosts one of the largest rookeries in the wider Caribbean, with over 230 females nesting on the index beach alone. Given its extreme easterly position and the prevailing north-westerly current flow into the Caribbean Sea, Barbados is likely to be a significant contributor to foraging grounds throughout the region. Primary females, which are untagged and without tag scars, made up the majority of females encountered on nesting beaches in most years, suggesting that reductions in juvenile and sub-adult mortality, both nationally and regionally, are significant to the increase in number of nesting females. Females nest every 2.47 yr on average, although remigration intervals of individual females vary (range: 1 to 6 yr), suggesting environmental influences on nesting periodicity. The average clutch frequency estimated from the index beach was 4.1 nests per female, but that calculated from less intensively surveyed beaches was lower. Primary and Remigrant females differed in length, mass and clutch frequency; the results must be viewed with caution, however, as preliminary laparoscopic examinations revealed that some Primary females were not in fact nesting for their first season, and because differences in nest site fidelity between the 2 groups of females could potentially cause the differences in clutch frequencies estimated.

KEY WORDS: Eretmochelys imbricata · Abundance · Remigration · Clutch frequency · Index beach monitoring

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Cite this article as: Beggs JA, Horrocks JA, Krueger BH (2007) Increase in hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata nesting in Barbados, West Indies. Endang Species Res 3:159-168.

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