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ESR 47:297-331 (2022)  -  DOI:

Marine turtles of the African east coast: current knowledge and priorities for conservation and research

Casper H. van de Geer1,2,*, Jérôme Bourjea3, Annette C. Broderick1, Mayeul Dalleau4, Raquel S. Fernandes5, Linda R. Harris6, Gelica E. Inteca7, Fikiri K. Kiponda2, Cristina M. M. Louro6, Jeanne A. Mortimer8,9, Daudi Msangameno10, Lily D. Mwasi11, Ronel Nel6, Gladys M. Okemwa12, Mike Olendo13, Marcos A. M. Pereira5, ALan F. Rees1, Isabel Silva7, Sonal Singh14, Lindsey West15, Jessica L. Williams16, Brendan J. Godley1

1Marine Turtle Research Group, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
2Local Ocean Conservation, 80202 Watamu, Kenya
3MARBEC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD, 34200 Sète, France
4Seanopsis, Saint-Paul 97411, Reunion Island, French overseas territories
5Centro Terra Viva-Estudos e Advocacia Ambiental, Maputo, Mozambique
6Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha 6031, South Africa
7Faculdade de Ciências Naturais, Universidade Lúrio, Pemba, Mozambique
8PO Box 1443, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles
9Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA
10Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
11World Wide Fund for Nature-Kenya, 00200 Nairobi, Kenya
12Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, English Point, 80100 Mombasa, Kenya
13Conservation International, The Watermark Business Park, 00502 Nairobi, Kenya
14Baobab Trust, Bamburi, 80100 Mombasa, Kenya
15Sea Sense, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
16Tartarugas para o Amanhã, Tofo Beach, Mozambique
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Although published literature regarding the 5 species of marine turtle found along the continental African east coast has grown substantially over the last decades, a comprehensive synthesis of their status and ecology is lacking. Using a mixed methods approach, which combined an exhaustive literature review and expert elicitation, we assessed the distribution and magnitude of nesting, foraging areas, connectivity, and anthropogenic threats for these species in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa. A complex pattern of nesting sites, foraging areas, and migration pathways emerged that identified areas of high importance in all 5 countries, although significant data gaps remain, especially for Somalia. Illegal take, bycatch, and loss of foraging and nesting habitat were identified as the most serious anthropogenic threats. Although these threats are broadly similar along most of the coast, robust data that enable quantification of the impacts are scarce. Experts identified regional strengths and opportunities, as well as impediments to turtle conservation. Topics such as legislation and enforcement, collaboration, local stakeholders, and funding are discussed, and future directions suggested. Given the projected growth in human population along the continental African east coast and expected accompanying development, anthropogenic pressures on turtle populations are set to increase. Stronger regional collaboration and coordination within conservation and research efforts are needed if current and future challenges are to be tackled effectively.

KEY WORDS: Marine turtle · Illegal take · Bycatch · Western Indian Ocean · Nesting · Migration · Conservation · Africa

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Cite this article as: van de Geer CH, Bourjea J, Broderick AC, Dalleau M and others (2022) Marine turtles of the African east coast: current knowledge and priorities for conservation and research. Endang Species Res 47:297-331.

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