Entity

Time filter

Source Type


Pilcher N.J.,Marine Research Foundation | Antonopoulou M.,World Wildlife Fund | Perry L.,World Wildlife Fund | Abdel-Moati M.A.,Ministry of Environment | And 19 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2014

We present the first data on hawksbill turtle post-nesting migrations and behaviour in the Arabian region. Tracks from 90 post-nesting turtles (65 in the Gulf and 25 from Oman) revealed that hawksbills in the Arabian region may nest up to 6 times in a season with an average of 3 nests per turtle. Turtles from Qatar, Iran and the UAE generally migrated south and southwest to waters shared by the UAE and Qatar. A smaller number of turtles migrated northward towards Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and one reached Kuwait. Omani turtles migrated south towards Masirah island and to Quwayrah, staying close to the mainland and over the continental shelf. The widespread dispersal of hawksbill foraging grounds across the SW Gulf may limit habitat protection options available to managers, and we suggest these be linked to preservation of shallow water habitats and fishery management. In contrast, the two main foraging areas in Oman were small and could be candidates for protected area consideration. Critical migration bottlenecks were identified at the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula as turtles from Daymaniyat Islands migrate southward, and between Qatar and Bahrain. Overall, Gulf turtles spent 68% of the time in foraging ground with home ranges of 40-60km2 and small core areas of 6km2. Adult female turtles from Oman were significantly larger than Gulf turtles by ~11cm x-=81.4CCL and spent 83% of their time foraging in smaller home ranges with even smaller core areas (~3km2), likely due to better habitat quality and food availability. Gulf turtles were among the smallest in the world x-=70.3CCL and spent an average of 20% of time undertaking summer migration loops, a thermoregulatory response to avoid elevated sea surface temperatures, as the Gulf regularly experiences sustained sea surface temperatures >30°C. Fishery bycatch was determined for two of the 90 turtles. These spatio-temporal findings on habitat use will enable risk assessments for turtles in the face of multiple threats including oil and gas industries, urban and industrial development, fishery pressure, and shipping. They also improve our overall understanding of hawksbill habitat use and behaviour in the Arabian region, and will support sea turtle conservation-related policy decision-making at national and regional levels. © 2014 The Authors. Source


Pilcher N.J.,Marine Research Foundation | Perry L.,World Wildlife Fund | Antonopoulou M.,World Wildlife Fund | Abdel-Moati M.A.,Ministry of Environment | And 18 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2014

We present a previously unrecorded short-term behavioural response by hawksbill sea turtles to elevated sea surface temperatures in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Surface waters typically exceed 30°C for sustained periods during the summer, and can be likened to a natural living laboratory for understanding thermoregulatory behaviour by marine species in the face of climate change and elevated global temperatures. We satellite-tracked 90 post-nesting hawksbill turtles between 2010 and 2013 as part of a larger programme to elucidate turtle foraging habitats and post-nesting behaviour. We used 66 of these datasets, where turtles clearly departed and returned to foraging grounds, for these analyses. Sea surface temperatures during the summer averaged 33.5°C and peaked at 34.9°C. During these elongated periods of elevated temperatures (June-August) the turtles temporarily migrated an average of 70km to deeper and cooler waters at northern latitudes, returning after 2-3months (September-October) back to original feeding grounds. Temperature differential T between foraging and summer loop habitats was significantly different and approximated -2°C. Turtles undertaking summer migration loops generally moved in a north-easterly direction toward deeper water, returning in a south-westerly direction to the shallower foraging grounds. Swim speeds were significantly higher and orientation was less omnidirectional during the migrations than when foraging. The outbound migrations were significantly inversely correlated with temperature, but were not linked to chlorophyll-a, geostrophic currents or sea surface height. The turtles' preference for returning to the same foraging grounds suggests a lack of other substantial influences which might have precipitated the temporary summer migration loops. Our results indicate that Gulf hawksbills employ thermoregulatory responses which take them out of high temperature and potentially physiology-threatening conditions. These findings improve our overall understanding of hawksbill habitat use and behaviour in a climate-challenged environment, and support sea turtle conservation-related policy decision-making at national and regional levels. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Discover hidden collaborations