Original Paper

Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 101-112

Distributional patterns of adult male loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA during and after a major annual breeding aggregation

  • Michael D. ArendtAffiliated withMarine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Email author 
  • , Albert L. SegarsAffiliated withMarine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • , Julia I. ByrdAffiliated withMarine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • , Jessica BoyntonAffiliated withMarine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • , J. David WhitakerAffiliated withMarine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • , Lindsey ParkerAffiliated withMarine Extension Service, University of Georgia
  • , David W. OwensAffiliated withGrice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston
  • , Gaëlle BlanvillainAffiliated withGrice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston
  • , Joseph M. QuattroAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina
    • , Mark A. RobertsAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina

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Abstract

Satellite transmitters were attached to 25 reproductively active and four inactive adult male loggerhead sea turtles (86.6–107.0 cm SCLmin) captured from the Port Canaveral, FL, USA shipping channel to assess horizontal and vertical distributions. During the breeding period, male loggerheads aggregated (44% of 755 turtle days) in a 117.6 km2 core area that encompassed the shipping channel. Median dive duration during the breeding period was 27 min (IQR = 15–42 min) and males spent 4% (IQR = 3–5%) of the time at the surface, with significantly shorter dives associated with reproductively active males. Migrant and resident males dispersed concurrently, with residents shifting > 30 km east across the continental shelf over a more protracted departure schedule than migrants. Dive duration and time spent at the surface increased through the fall. Cluster analysis revealed the strongest association for dive duration with sea state during and after the breeding period, with significantly longer dives during more turbulent conditions. In contrast, univariate associations with surface interval duration were not elucidated.