Important areas at sea for adult loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean Sea: satellite tracking corroborates findings from potentially biased sources
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- Zbinden, J.A., Aebischer, A., Margaritoulis, D. et al. Mar Biol (2008) 153: 899. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0862-2
Sea turtle populations worldwide suffer from reduced survival of immatures and adults due to fishery bycatch. Unfortunately, information about the whereabouts of turtles outside the breeding habitat is scarce in most areas, hampering the development of spatially explicit conservation plans. In the Mediterranean, recoveries of adult females flipper-tagged on nesting beaches suggest that the Adriatic Sea and Gulf of Gabès are important foraging areas for adults, but such information could be heavily biased (observing and reporting bias). In order to obtain unbiased data, we satellite-tracked seven loggerhead sea turtles after they completed nesting in the largest known Mediterranean rookery (Bay of Laganas, Zakynthos, Greece). Three females settled in the north Adriatic Sea, one in the south Adriatic Sea and two in the Gulf of Gabès area at the completion of their post-nesting migrations (one individual did not occupy a distinct foraging area). The concordance of tracking results with information from recoveries of flipper-tagged turtles suggests that the north Adriatic Sea and the Gulf of Gabès represent key areas for female adult Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtles.