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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 461:223-232 (2012)  -  DOI:

Migratory patterns in hawksbill turtles described by satellite tracking

L. A. Hawkes1,2,*, J. Tomás3,4, O. Revuelta3, Y. M. León5, J. M. Blumenthal6, A. C. Broderick4, M. Fish7, J. A. Raga3, M. J. Witt2,4, B. J. Godley4

1School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
2Environment and Sustainability Institute and 4Marine Turtle Research Group, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, School of Biosciences, Treliever Road, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK
3Marine Zoology Unit, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, PO Box 22085, Valencia 46071, Spain
5Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo, Area de Ciencias Basicas, INTEC, Avenida de Los Próceres, Los Jardines del Norte 10602, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
6Department of the Environment, Cayman Islands Government, PO Box 10202, Grand Cayman KY1-1002, Cayman Islands
7World Wildlife Fund, 409 Granville Street, Suite 1588, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 1T2, Canada

ABSTRACT: The advent of telemetry has improved knowledge of the spatio-temporal distribution of marine species of conservation concern. Among the sea turtles, the movements of the hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata are among the least well described. We tracked 10 adult female hawksbill turtles by satellite after nesting in the Dominican Republic (DR) and describe a dichotomy in patterns of movement: some (n = 2) turtles remained in the DR, while others migrated to waters off Honduras and Nicaragua (n = 5) and the Bahamas (n = 1). Transmitters on 2 turtles failed during migration, before they reached their final foraging grounds. We present results from long tracking durations for 3 turtles, including 3 entire remigration intervals, highlighting foraging ground and nest-site fidelity. Threats to hawksbill turtles are not well documented for Nicaragua or neighbouring Honduras and represent a major information gap. We suggest that directing conservation efforts to regionally important foraging areas, such as those in Nicaragua, and strengthening national conservation in each nation with significant hawksbill nesting offers a clear way forward for the conservation of hawksbill turtles in the region.

KEY WORDS: Satellite tracking · Hawksbill turtle · Caribbean · Conservation planning · Fidelity

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Cite this article as: Hawkes LA, Tomás J, Revuelta O, León YM and others (2012) Migratory patterns in hawksbill turtles described by satellite tracking. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 461:223-232.

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