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Migration routes, foraging behavior, and site fidelity of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) satellite tracked from a globally important rookery

September 30, 2019

The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA (27.946°N, − 80.494°W) represents one of the largest loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting sites in the Western Hemisphere. Surprisingly, little work has been conducted to determine females’ post-nesting migratory behavior and characteristics of their foraging areas. Between 2008 and 2017, satellite telemetry was used to trace the locations and movements of 45 post-nesting loggerhead turtles. A switching state-space model was employed to estimate the behavioral state of each location. Internesting, migrating and foraging activity periods were determined for 38 loggerheads based on the SSSM. Seven environmental variables were extracted from remote sensing imagery for each location to compare values among behaviors. Core primary foraging areas ranged in size from 5.89 to 4572.80 km2. Four foraging types (primary, secondary, seasonal, and loops) were observed. Most turtles resided at a primary foraging area year round. A few individuals conducted foraging loops away from a primary foraging area. Both seasonal and loop movements were associated with changes in sea surface temperature as turtles moved to avoid temperatures that could cause cold-stunning or mortality. Turtle size and nesting beach offshore currents may play a role in foraging area selection, and date of departure from the nesting beach may be linked to foraging destination. By making the connection among oceanic features, foraging areas, and the influence of environmental variables on these areas, it is possible to identify and characterize critically important feeding areas and migration corridors for loggerheads nesting on the east coast of Florida.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Migration routes, foraging behavior, and site fidelity of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) satellite tracked from a globally important rookery
DOI 10.1007/s00227-019-3583-4
Authors D.R. Evans, Raymond R. Carthy, S.A. Ceriani
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Biology
Index ID 70223699
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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