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ESR 53:379-393 (2024)  -  DOI:

Intra-species variability in migratory movement of hawksbill turtles in the southwest Indian Ocean

Manon Nivière1,*, Mayeul Dalleau1,2, Jérôme Bourjea3, Claire Jean4, Stéphane Ciccione1,4, Jeanne A. Mortimer5,6, Vanessa Didon7, David Rowat7, Gérard Rocamora8, Ravaka Ranaivoson9, Jamal Mahafina10, Lalatiana Odile Randriamiharisoa11, Eliott Barichasse12, Olivier Bousquet13,14, Anne Barat13, Antoine Laforge13, Katia Ballorain1

1CEDTM, 19 Rue des Frangipaniers, 97424 Piton Saint-Leu, La Réunion, France
2Seanopsis, 97411 Saint-Paul, La Réunion, France
3MARBEC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD, 34200 Sète, France
4Kelonia l’observatoire des tortues marines, 46 rue du Général De Gaulle, 97436 Saint Leu, La Réunion, France
5Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA
6Turtle Action Group of Seychelles, PO Box 1443, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles
7MCSS, PO Box 384, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles
8Island Biodiversity & Conservation Centre, University of Seychelles (IBC-UniSey), PO Box 1348, Anse Royale, Mahé, Seychelles
9WCS Madagascar, Villa Ifanomezantsoa, Soavimbahoaka, PO Box 8500, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
10IH.SM, 2 Rue Dr. Rabesandratana HD, PO Box 141, 601 Toliara, Madagascar
11Madagascar National Parks, Lot AI 10 C Ambatobe, Antananarivo 103, Madagascar
12Parc National de Mohéli, Nioumachoi, Ile de Mohéli, Union des Comores
13UMR 8105 LACY, Université de La Réunion, CNRS, Météo-France, 15 avenue René Cassin, 97715 Saint-Denis, La Réunion, France
14Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Implementing effective conservation measures to manage migratory populations is challenging, especially in a relatively inaccessible dynamic environment such as the ocean. With limited financial and human resources, efforts must be intelligently prioritized to achieve conservation success and reduce uncertainties of conservation efforts. The southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) hosts some of the world’s most important breeding grounds for the Critically Endangered hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata. However, knowledge gaps remain about the movement patterns of this species. Between 2007 and 2022, we deployed 17 satellite tags onto hawksbill turtles from scattered locations in the SWIO: 16 nesting females—Granitic Islands, Seychelles (n = 9); north Madagascar (n = 5); Moheli, Comoros (n = 1); Juan de Nova, Terres australes et antarctiques françaises (n = 1)—and 1 female bycaught in fisheries (east Madagascar). We found strong variability in migratory movements amongst individuals, particularly in terms of distance and movement persistence. Detailed analysis of movement persistence reveals that these individuals behave differently in neritic and oceanic habitats, with a lower movement persistence in neritic habitats. We identified a total of 12 foraging areas scattered throughout the SWIO, both in coastal and open-sea neritic habitats. These results reinforce the need to consider the importance of neritic habitats, for both migration and foraging, in conservation policies. The quantification of the degree of migratory variability is particularly important to developing conservation plans and strategies at both the national and international level, including the delineation of regional management units (RMUs) in the Indian Ocean.

KEY WORDS: Eretmochelys imbricata · Movement persistence · Migration · Foraging habitat · Southwest Indian Ocean

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Cite this article as: Nivière M, Dalleau M, Bourjea J, Jean C and others (2024) Intra-species variability in migratory movement of hawksbill turtles in the southwest Indian Ocean. Endang Species Res 53:379-393.

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