ESR 36:315-324 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00907

Trends in fishery-dependent captures of sea turtles in a western North Atlantic foraging region

Joanne Braun McNeill1,*, April Goodman Hall1, Paul M. Richards2

1NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA
2NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL 33149, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Accurate assessments of sea turtle populations are essential for determining population trends and formulating conservation plans for the recovery of these imperiled species. Although counting nesting females and nests has been widely used to assess abundance, surveys of in-water populations can provide a more effective means of measuring the success of recovery actions. An in-water survey within the Pamlico-Albemarle Estuarine Complex of North Carolina, USA, was begun in 1995 to monitor trends in sea turtle populations, and 3 sampling periods were established: 1995-1997, 2001-2003, and 2007-2009. A significant increase in loggerhead Caretta caretta captures was detected among the 3 sampling periods, while the addition of sampling in 2007-2009 (n = 887 unique individuals) revealed significant increases in capture rates of green Chelonia mydas and Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles. Species composition also changed from a dominance of loggerheads in the early sampling periods to an equivalent proportion of green and loggerhead sea turtles in 2007-2009; North Carolina stranding data displayed similar changes in species composition during 2007-2009. Though logistically difficult, long-term in-water studies are critical for monitoring trends in sea turtle populations and implementing effective conservation plans.


KEY WORDS: Sea turtles · Population assessments · In-water surveys · Capture rates · Trends · Loggerhead · Green · Kemp’s ridley


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Cite this article as: Braun McNeill J, Goodman Hall A, Richards PM (2018) Trends in fishery-dependent captures of sea turtles in a western North Atlantic foraging region. Endang Species Res 36:315-324. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00907

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