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ESR 10:245-254 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00164

Movements of olive ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys olivacea and associated oceanographic features as determined by improved light-based geolocation

Yonat Swimmer1,*, Lianne McNaughton2, David Foley2, Lucas Moxey2, Anders Nielsen2

1NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
2Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: We demonstrate the use of pop-off satellite archival tags (PSAT)-derived geolocations to determine the most probable tracks (MPTs) of olive ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys olivacea  off Costa Rica. We use a Kalman filter state-space model (KFSST) that uses light-based longitude and latitude and sea surface temperatures (SST). PSATs placed on 14 turtles remained fixed for an average 53 d (range: 29 to 111 d). The average reduction in longitude and latitude standard deviations was ϕlon = 0.62 and ϕlat = 0.28 between the raw and KFSST-derived MPTs, respectively. Geolocations were linked in time to oceanographic features such as SST and chlorophyll a, as reported by satellite-based sensors. Turtles went in all directions from their respective release points, independent of year and capture type (longline-caught vs. hand-caught). Turtles remained within a SST range between 23.3 and 30.5°C (mean = 27.1°C), with over 75% of all recorded temperatures between 25.0 and 28.0°C. Turtle locations were associated with mean chlorophyll a = 0.37 mg m–3. MPT data suggest that turtles spent a disproportionate amount of time in the general region of the Costa Rica Dome, a nutrient-rich quasi-permanent cyclonic eddy. Taken together, these findings support the increased utility of filtered light-based geolocation data in identifying environmental features characteristic of sea turtles’ preferred habitat, information which can be useful in managing regional fisheries.


KEY WORDS: Marine turtles · Geolocation · Pop-off satellite archival tags · Oceanographic features


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Cite this article as: Swimmer Y, McNaughton L, Foley D, Moxey L, Nielsen A (2009) Movements of olive ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys olivacea and associated oceanographic features as determined by improved light-based geolocation. Endang Species Res 10:245-254. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00164

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