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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 262:305-309 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps262305

Satellite telemetry suggests high levels of fishing-induced mortality in marine turtles

Graeme C. Hays1,*, Annette C. Broderick1, Brendan J. Godley1, Paolo Luschi2, Wallace J. Nichols3

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
2Dipartmento di Etologia, Ecologia, Evoluzione, University of Pisa, Via A. Volta 6, 56126 Pisa, Italy
3Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, PO Box 752, Brookdale, California 95007, USA

ABSTRACT: Long-term records of nesting numbers, or proxies to nesting numbers, show a precipitous decline in the size of many sea turtle populations. Population declines are most frequently attributed to fisheries bycatch, although direct quantification of this level of mortality is rare. We used satellite-tracking records for turtles in the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans to identify when turtles had been captured. Evidence for capture came from a combination of an increase in good quality locations from transmitters, transmitters moving inland to coastal towns and villages, and on-board submergence data, showing that transmitters had come out of the water. A high level of mortality was calculated, confirming current concerns regarding the outlook for sea turtles.

KEY WORDS: Argos · Chelonia · Dermochelys · Global · Fishery bycatch · Albatross

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