Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Large-scale movement patterns of male loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in Shark Bay, Australia

Erica L. Olson A D , Anne K. Salomon A , Aaron J. Wirsing B and Michael R. Heithaus C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.

B School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Box 352100, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

C School of Environment, Arts and Society, Florida International University, ACI-318, 3000 NE 151st, North Miami, FL 33181, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: eolson@sfu.ca

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(11) 1108-1116 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12030
Submitted: 31 January 2012  Accepted: 23 July 2012   Published: 26 November 2012

Abstract

Large marine vertebrates are particularly susceptible to anthropogenic threats because they tend to be long-lived, late to mature and wide-ranging. Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are characterised by such life history traits and are listed as ‘Endangered’ by The World Conservation Union. Although juvenile movements and at-sea behaviour of adult females are relatively well studied, little is known about the movements of males and their subsequent exposure to threats. Shark Bay, Western Australia, is home to the largest breeding population of loggerhead turtles in Australia. We assessed the large-scale movements of nine adult male loggerhead turtles, with the goal of aiding conservation and management policies. During 7 months outside the breeding season, all nine turtles stayed within the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, with most showing fidelity to small coastal foraging areas. Several turtles, however, showed relatively large movements between core foraging areas. None of the four turtles that continued transmitting through the breeding season exhibited obvious movements towards nesting beaches, suggesting that mating may occur on foraging grounds or that males are not mating every year. Quantifying male loggerhead movements assists conservation planning by identifying biologically relevant spatial scales at which research and management strategies should be designed.

Additional keywords: Argos, habitat use, Indian Ocean, kernel density estimation, satellite telemetry, spatial ecology.


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