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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 227:63-70 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps227063

Diving behaviour during the internesting interval for loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta nesting in Cyprus

Jonathan D. R. Houghton1, Annette C. Broderick1, Brendan J. Godley1, Julian D. Metcalfe2, Graeme C. Hays1,*

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, United Kingdom
2The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Lowestoft Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0HT, United Kingdom
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Time depth recorders were used to assess the patterns of depth utilisation by 2 loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta in Cyprus, eastern Mediterranean. Dives to the seabed accounted for 59% (171 h) and 75% (215 h) of the internesting interval, respectively, with most dives being shallow (<20 m), suggesting the turtles remained close to the shore. These benthic dives decreased markedly in the days following or prior to a nesting event, suggesting that the behaviours associated with nesting may be protracted. This importance of the seabed for loggerhead turtles in Cyprus contrasts with the far more extensive use of mid-water resting dives recently reported for this species in Japan. Our evidence suggests that this dichotomy may reflect differences in the amount of time spent travelling, with mid-water resting occurring when turtles are travelling and, conversely, when little time is spent travelling turtles opt to remain predominantly on the seabed.

KEY WORDS: Sea turtle · Diving · Wildlife telemetry · Mediterranean · Internesting interval

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