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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 18:233-245 (2012)  -  DOI:

Post-nesting movements and feeding grounds of a resident East Pacific green turtle Chelonia mydas population from Costa Rica

Gabriela S. Blanco1,*, Stephen J. Morreale2, Helen Bailey3, Jeffrey A. Seminoff4, Frank V. Paladino5, James R. Spotila1

1Department of Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA
2Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
3Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA
4NOAA—National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
5Department of Biology, Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805-1499, USA

ABSTRACT: Satellite telemetry has helped reveal migratory movements of sea turtles. We attached satellite transmitters (MK10 Pat Tags) to 10 post-nesting East Pacific green turtles Chelonia mydas from Nombre de Jesús, Costa Rica (in 2006, 2007 and 2009) to track their movements, identify their foraging grounds, and elucidate their foraging behavior. Location data were analyzed by applying a switching state-space model to obtain daily position estimates and to differentiate between 2 behavioral modes (migrating and foraging). All post-nesting movements were along coastal routes ranging up to 1086 km from the nesting beach. Of the 10 turtles, 6 remained local residents of Costa Rica foraging in the Gulf of Papagayo (N = 2) and the Gulf of Santa Elena (N = 4). One individual moved southwards to the Gulf of Panama, and 3 other turtles migrated northwards to waters off the Gulf of Fonseca in northern Nicaragua, with one continuing its foraging movements northwards to coastal Guatemala. Home ranges during foraging varied widely among individuals, and the calculated size of feeding grounds ranged from 315 to 18335 km2, the latter being the largest reported for this species. The fact that members of this nesting population inhabit coastal waters makes them vulnerable to human activities along the coasts of Central America. Our findings highlight the importance of Costa Rica and the coastal waters of Central America for the survival of the Endangered Costa Rican green turtles.

KEY WORDS: East Pacific green turtle · Chelonia mydas · Migration · Costa Rica · Foraging grounds · Satellite telemetry · Switching state-space model · Black turtle

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Cite this article as: Blanco GS, Morreale SJ, Bailey H, Seminoff JA, Paladino FV, Spotila JR (2012) Post-nesting movements and feeding grounds of a resident East Pacific green turtle Chelonia mydas population from Costa Rica. Endang Species Res 18:233-245.

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