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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Juvenile hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) movement patterns in Sechura Bay, Peru assessed with satellite tracking

M. Briggs, J. Alfaro-Shigueto*, J. C. Mangel, Nicolas Acuña-Perales, Sergio Pingo, Astrid Jimenez, A. F. Johnson

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The post-capture movements made by hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the southeast Pacific Ocean were monitored between 2014 and 2017. Eight hawksbill turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released in Sechura Bay, northern Peru. All turtles were classified as juveniles (curved carapace length range: 34.7cm to 47.5cm) and were captured in a small-scale demersal set net fishery in Sechura Bay. Track durations ranged from 9 to 489 days. Six of eight turtles remained within the bay for the duration of their tracking suggesting its importance as a long-term juvenile foraging site. Two turtles departed the bay and travelled over 1,000 km passing the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. The satellite tracks of those turtles that remained within the bay showed a significant overlap with areas used by the demersal set net fishery operating there (mean overlap 33%). The long residence times and high affinity for coastal areas observed in these tagged individuals makes them susceptible to multiple threats within the bay, including interactions with intensive small-scale fishing from the ports of Parachique, Puerto Rico, and Bayovar, as well as pollution and contamination from the communities that encompass the bay. More comprehensive measures are needed to quantify and characterize the threats faced by this endangered species in this unique habitat and to recommend practical conservation actions.