Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 1337–1342

Oceanic residents, neritic migrants: a possible mechanism underlying foraging dichotomy in adult female loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta)

Original Paper


To reveal the mechanism underlying intrapopulation variation in the use of feeding habitats (oceanic vs. neritic) by adult female loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), we compared telomere length in the epidermis (a proxy for age) between oceanic- and neritic-foraging recruits (first-time nesters). Based on egg-yolk stable isotope ratios, recruits at Yakushima Island, Japan, were clearly divided into small oceanic planktivores and large neritic benthivores. There were no significant differences in telomere length between oceanic and neritic foragers, suggesting that they start reproduction at similar ages. Turtles that experienced faster growing conditions during their oceanic early lives may achieve sexual maturity there, while others may move from oceanic areas into neritic habitats, switching diets from nutrient-poor macroplankton to nutrient-rich benthic fauna in order to compensate for their earlier slow growth rate and continue their sexual development, reaching maturity in neritic waters.

Supplementary material

227_2010_1413_MOESM1_ESM.xls (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 28 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hideo Hatase
    • 1
  • Kazuyoshi Omuta
    • 2
  • Katsumi Tsukamoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Yakushima Sea Turtle Research GroupKagoshimaJapan

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