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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 2:51-61 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/esr002051

Satellite tracking highlights the need for international cooperation in marine turtle management

Janice M. Blumenthal1,2,*, Joni L. Solomon1, Catherine D. Bell2, Timothy J. Austin1, Gina Ebanks-Petrie1, Michael S. Coyne3, Annette C. Broderick2, Brendan J. Godley2

1Department of Environment, PO Box 486, Grand Cayman KY1–1106, Cayman Islands
2Marine Turtle Research Group, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK
3Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, A321 LSRC, PO Box 90328, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA

ABSTRACT: We present detailed results of a satellite tracking project following 10 adult female turtles from the Cayman Islands, thought to have once been one of the world’s largest rookeries. By tracking the movements of 7 green turtles Chelonia mydas and 3 loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta from now critically reduced rookeries we defined key habitats for internesting movement, migration, and foraging in a range of Caribbean jurisdictions. Turtles tracked from the Cayman Islands traveled to foraging grounds in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and the USA. This range encompasses a >2000 km stretch of Caribbean coastline and the Florida Keys, highlighting the need for international cooperation in identifying and mitigating foraging ground threats. For one of the green turtles, foraging site fidelity was elucidated over the course of two reproductive seasons, and oceanic internesting intervals/post-nesting oceanic circles were defined for the first time in Atlantic loggerhead turtles. In addition to fundamental and applied insights into the biology of the 2 species, this research elucidates geographic scale for potential ecological effects of past decimation of rookeries in the Cayman Islands and highlights the effectiveness of community efforts in support of conservation research.

KEY WORDS: Satellite tracking · Spatial ecology · Marine turtle · Chelonia mydas · Caretta caretta

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