, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 127-139
Date: 12 Nov 2011

Seasonal distribution patterns of juvenile loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) following capture from a shipping channel in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

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Abstract

Thirty-four juvenile loggerhead sea turtles captured by trawling from the Charleston, South Carolina (USA), shipping channel (32°42′N; −79°47′W) between May 2004 and August 2007 were tagged with satellite transmitters to assess the extent to which they remained near the capture location given their collection along a seasonal migratory corridor. Seventy-five percent of juveniles were classified as seasonal residents. Migrants predominantly swam north in the spring and nomads wandered south in the summer, but predictive indicators for non-resident status were not identified. All but one juvenile generally remained south of 34°N, within 40 km of shore, and in waters <30 m deep throughout the year. Nine of 14 loggerhead sea turtles monitored during the winter remained exclusively over the continental shelf, three briefly occurred in oceanic habitats, and two foraged extensively in oceanic habitats. Residents distributed >15 km from shore between spring and autumn were three times as likely to occur in oceanic habitats in winter. Modest seasonal movements contrasted with adults tagged at similar latitudes and with juveniles tagged further north and suggest distinct foraging groups within a regional foraging ground.

Communicated by J. D. R. Houghton.