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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 433:261-272 (2011)  -  DOI:

Post-capture movements of loggerhead turtles in the southeastern Pacific Ocean assessed by satellite tracking

Jeffrey C. Mangel1,2,*, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto1,2, Matthew J. Witt2, Peter H. Dutton3, Jeffrey A. Seminoff3, Brendan J. Godley2

1Pro Delphinus, Octavio Bernal 572-5, Lima 11, Peru
2Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK
3Protected Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, La Jolla, California 92037, USA

ABSTRACT: The post-capture movements made by loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta in the southeastern Pacific Ocean were monitored from 2003 to 2007. Fourteen loggerhead turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released off the coast of Peru. All turtles were juveniles (curved carapace length range: 40.5 to 68.5 cm) incidentally captured by small-scale longline fishing vessels from southern or central Peru. Track durations were highly variable (mean ± SD: 143 ± 90 d; range: 8 to 297 d) with no clear signs of immediate post-release mortality. Upon release, all turtles moved offshore beyond the continental shelf. Eight of 11 turtles tracked for >60 d had final displacements of <750 km, suggesting that loggerhead turtles often maintain extended residency in these waters and that this area is an important foraging zone for loggerhead turtles of southwest Pacific origin. Satellite tracks also showed a substantial overlap of areas used by turtles with known Peruvian longline fishing effort. Turtles spent 75% of their time within the area fished by this fleet (based upon observed sets). This suggests that turtles are vulnerable to fishery interactions and that bycatch mitigation measures should be employed to minimize fishery impacts on loggerhead turtles. The loggerhead turtles tracked during this study spent ca. 51% of their time in Peruvian waters, 39% in international waters and 9% in Chilean waters, which emphasizes the need for a multinational approach to sea turtle conservation and fisheries management in the region.

KEY WORDS: Caretta caretta · Peru · Chile · Small-scale fisheries · Bycatch · Habitat · Governance

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Cite this article as: Mangel JC, Alfaro-Shigueto J, Witt MJ, Dutton PH, Seminoff JA, Godley BJ (2011) Post-capture movements of loggerhead turtles in the southeastern Pacific Ocean assessed by satellite tracking. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 433:261-272.

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