Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 5, pp 1011–1026 | Cite as

Oceanographic influences on the dive behavior of juvenile loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the North Pacific Ocean

  • Evan A. HowellEmail author
  • Peter H. Dutton
  • Jeffrey J. Polovina
  • Helen Bailey
  • Denise M. Parker
  • George H. Balazs
Original Paper


Satellite telemetry data from 17 juvenile loggerhead turtles (43.5–66.5 cm straight carapace length) were used in conjunction with oceanographic data to analyze the influence of regional and seasonal oceanography on dive behavior in the North Pacific Ocean. Combined dive behavior for all individuals showed that turtles spent more than 80% of their time at depths <5 m, and more than 90% of their time at depths <15 m. Multivariate classifications of dive data revealed four major dive types, three representing deeper, longer dives, and one representing shallower dives shorter in duration. Turtles exhibited variability in these dive types across oceanographic regions, with deeper, longer dives in the Hawaii longline swordfish fishing grounds during the first quarter of the year, as well as in the Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region and the region near the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. Turtles in the Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region also exhibited dive variability associated with mesoscale eddy features, with turtles making deeper, longer dives while associated with the strongest total kinetic energy. Turtles in the central North Pacific exhibited seasonality in dive behavior that appeared to reflect synchronous latitudinal movements with the North Pacific Subtropical Front and the associated seasonal, large-scale oceanography. Turtles made deeper, longer dives during the first quarter of the year within this region, the reported time and area where the highest loggerhead bycatch occurs by the longline fishery. These results represent the first comprehensive study of dive data for this species in this region. The increased understanding of juvenile loggerhead dive behavior and the influences of oceanography on dive variability should provide further insight into why interactions with longline fisheries occur and suggest methods for reducing the bycatch of this threatened species.


Advance Very High Resolution Radiometer Advance Very High Resolution Radiometer Dive Behavior Loggerhead Turtle Baja California Peninsula 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Michael Seki, Reka Domokos, Donald Kobayashi, Kyle Van Houtan, Steven Bograd, Daniel Palacios, T. Todd Jones, and Pierre Kleiber for fruitful discussions and comments regarding this manuscript. We also wish to thank Don Petersen, Lyle Enriquez, and the fisheries observers with the NOAA Fisheries Service Southwest Regional Office in Long Beach, CA for deployment of the transmitters and providing associated information on the bycaught turtles, the captain and crew of both the NOAA research vessel Oscar Elton Sette and the Hokkaido University Training Ship Oshoro Maru including professors Kenshi Kuma, John Bower, Hiroji Onishi, and Atsushi Yamaguchi, and students from Hokkaido University and Hidetada Kiyofuji who aided in the collection of the in situ data temperature data. The first author also wishes to thank Sei-Ichi Saitoh for assistance with this project. Altimetry data used in this study were produced by the Ssalto program and obtained from Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) center under the auspices of the Centre National d’Études Spatiales of France (CNES). SST data were processed and distributed by the NESDIS OceanWatch Central Pacific Node. This research was conducted as part of the NOAA Fisheries and the Environment (FATE) program and was partially supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through a grant provided by the Applied Sciences Program in the Earth Science Division.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evan A. Howell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter H. Dutton
    • 2
  • Jeffrey J. Polovina
    • 1
  • Helen Bailey
    • 3
  • Denise M. Parker
    • 4
  • George H. Balazs
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacific Islands Fisheries Science CenterNOAA FisheriesHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Southwest Fisheries Science CenterNOAA FisheriesLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Environmental Research DivisionNOAA FisheriesPacific GroveUSA
  4. 4.Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric ResearchUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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