Box 486

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
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Blumenthal J.M.,Box 486 | Blumenthal J.M.,University of Exeter | Austin T.J.,Box 486 | Bothwell J.B.,Box 486 | And 7 more authors.
Aquatic Biology | Year: 2010

Tracking fine-scale movements in relation to threats is fundamental to the management of exploited marine species, yet there is considerable difficulty associated with gathering such data at sea. By combining a capture-recapture study with deployment of time-depth recorders (TDRs) and ultrasonic tags, we elucidated distribution and daily movements of juvenile green turtles Chelonia mydas exposed to a legal marine turtle fishery in the Cayman Islands. For instrumented turtles, distinct diel activity patterns were observed: dives during the day were shorter and more active than those at night, implying diurnal foraging and nocturnal resting. Spatially, while capture and recapture locations suggested fidelity to a shallow lagoon, when turtles were fitted with TDRs and ultra-sonic tags we demonstrated that they regularly moved out of the lagoon and onto the reef, where they could legally be captured in the marine turtle fishery. Our results are thus novel and valuable in a management context in that we demonstrated that seemingly protected aggregations of juvenile green turtles within a lagoon were, in fact, exposed to legal capture on a near-daily basis. This emphasizes the importance of assessing diel activity patterns of juvenile marine turtles, particularly with respect to directed take and other threats. © Inter-Research 2010.

PubMed | Box 486
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Molecular ecology | Year: 2010

Despite intense interest in conservation of marine turtles, spatial ecology during the oceanic juvenile phase remains relatively unknown. Here, we used mixed stock analysis and examination of oceanic drift to elucidate movements of hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and address management implications within the Caribbean. Among samples collected from 92 neritic juvenile hawksbills in the Cayman Islands we detected 11 mtDNA control region haplotypes. To estimate contributions to the aggregation, we performed many-to-many mixed stock analysis, incorporating published hawksbill genetic and population data. The Cayman Islands aggregation represents a diverse mixed stock: potentially contributing source rookeries spanned the Caribbean basin, delineating a scale of recruitment of 200-2500 km. As hawksbills undergo an extended phase of oceanic dispersal, ocean currents may drive patterns of genetic diversity observed on foraging aggregations. Therefore, using high-resolution Aviso ocean current data, we modelled movement of particles representing passively drifting oceanic juvenile hawksbills. Putative distribution patterns varied markedly by origin: particles from many rookeries were broadly distributed across the region, while others would appear to become entrained in local gyres. Overall, we detected a significant correlation between genetic profiles of foraging aggregations and patterns of particle distribution produced by a hatchling drift model (Mantel test, r = 0.77, P < 0.001; linear regression, r = 0.83, P < 0.001). Our results indicate that although there is a high degree of mixing across the Caribbean (a turtle soup), current patterns play a substantial role in determining genetic structure of foraging aggregations (forming turtle groups). Thus, for marine turtles and other widely distributed marine species, integration of genetic and oceanographic data may enhance understanding of population connectivity and management requirements.

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