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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 575:165-179 (2017)  -  DOI:

Spatiotemporal hotspots of habitat use by loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles in the Levant basin as tools for conservation

Yaniv Levy1,2,3,*, Tal Keren2, Noam Leader3, Gilad Weil4, Dan Tchernov1, Gil Rilov1,5

1Marine Biology Department, Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
2Israel’s Sea Turtle Rescue Center, Nature & Parks Authority, Mikhmoret 4029700, Israel
3Science division, Nature & Parks Authority, Jerusalem 9546303, Israel
4GIS unit, Computing & Information Technology Department, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Jerusalem 9546303, Israel
5National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Haifa 3108001, Israel
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding the spatiotemporal abundance of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles is crucial for marine conservation. In Israel, at the south-eastern Levant Sea, 10 loggerhead (8 females, 2 males) and 5 green (3 females, 2 males) sea turtles were tracked via satellite telemetry tags. Turtles were tagged post nesting (n = 8) or prior to their release following rehabilitation (n = 7, 3 females and 4 males, all sub-adults to adults). Tracked sea turtles spent their time foraging in a median of 137 km2 core home range (50% kernel density estimation). Home range size increased to a median of 464 km2 during the inter-nesting season. Migration varied widely, ranging from 87 km from the tagging site in 1 turtle (near residency) to >3000 km in 2 other turtles. Most turtles migrated short distances within the south-eastern Levant Sea, which seems to be a multifunctional habitat for reproduction, migration and foraging. A large proportion of the migrations (72%) occurred along the coastline and the rest were in open waters. These new insights regarding the spatial distribution of sea turtles over the course of the year may potentially be translated into conservation guidelines, such as seasonal fishing restrictions, and management and planning of marine protected areas in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea.

KEY WORDS: Home range · Migration corridors · Feeding grounds · Green sea turtle · Loggerhead sea turtle · Seasonal patterns · Conservation · Marine protected area · MPA

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Cite this article as: Levy Y, Keren T, Leader N, Weil G, Tchernov D, Rilov G, (2017) Spatiotemporal hotspots of habitat use by loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles in the Levant basin as tools for conservation. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 575:165-179.

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