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ESR 10:181-190 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00250

Wild versus head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata: post-release behavior and feeding adaptions

Junichi Okuyama1,*, Tomohito Shimizu2,4, Osamu Abe3,5, Kenzo Yoseda2,6, Nobuaki Arai1

1 Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University, Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan
2 Yaeyama Station, National Center for Stock Enhancement, Fisheries Research Agency, Fukaiohta 148, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan
3 Ishigaki Tropical Station, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Fukaiohta 148-446, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan
4 Present address: Management Section, National Center for Stock Enhancement, Headquarters, Fisheries Research Agency, Queen’s Tower B 15F, 2-3-3, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, 220-6115, Japan
5 Present address: Marine Fishery Resources Development and Management Department, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, Taman Perikanan, Chendering 21080 Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
6 Present address: Ishigaki Tropical Station, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Fukaiohta 148-446, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan

ABSTRACT: To ensure the success of reintroduction programs, it is important to monitor the post-release behavior and survival of released animals. In this study, the post-release movement and behavior of 5 wild and 5 head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata were monitored using ultrasonic telemetry. Their dispersal directions and recaptures may indicate that wild turtles perform homing migrations. However, the head-started turtles showed non-uniform patterns in dispersal movements. Four head-started turtles moved out of the monitoring area in various directions, whereas one turtle stayed within the monitoring area for approx. 10 mo. These results might indicate that head-started turtles wander aimlessly in their new surroundings. Signal reception patterns indicated that wild turtles were active in the daytime and rested under the coral at night. Although the head-started turtles also rest at night, their resting places did not seem to be sheltered from hazardous sea conditions or adequate for efficient resting. Therefore, head-started hawksbill turtles appear to need pre-release training such as exposure to structures or ledges in the rearing tank so they can utilize similar structures in the wild for shelter during rest periods and maximize their dive duration by employing these as a roof to counteract the positive buoyant effect of inhaled air. Prey analysis of a head-started turtle captured incidentally demonstrates that these turtles can make feeding adaptations to adjust to the natural environment. These findings provide constructive information for the implementation and improvement of head-start programs.


KEY WORDS: Conservation · Eretmochelys imbricata · Feeding adaptation · Head-starting · Reintroduction · Ultrasonic telemetry


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Cite this article as: Okuyama J, Shimizu T, Abe O, Yoseda K, Arai N (2010) Wild versus head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata: post-release behavior and feeding adaptions. Endang Species Res 10:181-190. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00250

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