Skip to main content

Cause-specific temporal and spatial trends in green sea turtle strandings in the Hawaiian Archipelago (1982–2003)

Abstract

We investigated cause-specific temporal and spatial trends in sea turtle strandings in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Five species of sea turtle were recorded in 3,861 strandings over a 22-year period (1982–2003). Green turtles comprised 97% of these strandings with size and gender composition reflecting the demographic structure of the resident green turtle population and relative green turtle abundance in Hawaiian waters. The cause of strandings was determined by necropsy based on a complete gross external and internal examination. Totally 75% of the 3,732 green turtle strandings were from Oahu where strandings occur year-round. The most common known cause of the green turtle strandings was the tumour-forming disease, fibropapillomatosis (28%) followed by hook-and-line fishing gear-induced trauma (7%), gillnet fishing gear-induced trauma (5%), boat strike (2.5%), and shark attack (2.7%). Miscellaneous causes comprised 5.4% of strandings whereas 49% of green turtle strandings could not be attributed to any known cause. Green turtle strandings attributable to boat strike were more likely from Kauai and Oahu while fibropapilloma strandings were more likely from Oahu and Maui. Hook-and-line gear strandings were more likely from Oahu due to higher per capita inshore fishing effort. The specific mortality rate (conditional probability) for fibropapillomatosis was 88%, 69% for gillnet gear and 52% for hook-and-line gear. The probability of a dead green turtle stranding increased from 1982 but levelled off by the mid-1990s. The declining mortality risk was because the prevalence and severity of fibropapillomatosis has decreased recently and so has the mortality risk attributable to gillnet gear. Despite exposure to disease and inshore fishing gears, the Hawaiian green turtle stock continues to recover following protection since the late 1970s. Nevertheless, measures to reduce incidental capture of sea turtles in coastal Hawaiian fisheries would be prudent, especially since strandings attributable to hook-and-line fishing gear have increased steadily since 1982.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  • Aguirre A, Spraker T, Balazs G, Zimmerman B (1998) Spirorchidiasis and fibropapillomatosis in green turtles of the Hawaiian Islands. J Wildl Dis 34:91–98

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Balazs G (1982) Status of sea turtles in the central Pacific Ocean. In: Bjorndal KA (ed) Biology and conservation of sea turtles. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 243–252

    Google Scholar 

  • Balazs G, Hau S (1986) Geographic distribution: Lepidochelys olivacea in Hawaii. Herpetol Rev 17:51

    Google Scholar 

  • Balazs G, Chaloupka M (2004a) Thirty-year recovery trend in the once depleted Hawaiian green sea turtle stock. Biol Conserv 117:491–498

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Balazs G, Chaloupka M (2004b) Spatial and temporal variability in somatic growth of green sea turtles resident within the Hawaiian Archipelago. Mar Biol 145:1043–1059

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bishop Y, Fienberg S, Holland P (1975) Discrete multivariate analysis: theory and practice. MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Bjorndal K, Bolten A, Lagueux C (1994) Ingestion of marine debris by juvenile sea turtles in coastal Florida habitats. Mar Pollut Bull 28:154–158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boulon R (2000) Trends in sea turtle strandings, US Virgin Islands: 1982 to 1997. In: Abreu A, Briseno R, Marquez R, Sarti L (eds) Proceedings of the eighteenth international sea turtle symposium. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-436, pp 261–263

  • Bugoni L, Krause L, Petry M (2001) Marine debris and human impacts on sea turtles in southern Brazil. Mar Pollut Bull 42:1330–1334

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caillouet C, Shaver D, Teas W, Nance J, Revera D, Cannon A (1996) Relationship between sea turtle stranding rates and shrimp fishing intensities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico: 1986–1989 versus 1990–1993. Fish Bull 94:237–249

    Google Scholar 

  • Camphuysen C (1998) Beached bird surveys indicate decline in chronic oil pollution in the North Sea. Mar Pollut Bull 36:519–526

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chaloupka M, Limpus C (2001) Trends in the abundance of sea turtles resident in southern Great Barrier Reef waters. Biol Conserv 102:235–249

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chaloupka M, Balazs G (2005) Modelling the effect of fibropapilloma disease on the somatic growth dynamics of Hawaiian green sea turtles. Mar Biol 147:1251–1260

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chaloupka M, Balazs G (2007) Using Bayesian state-space modelling to assess the recovery and harvest potential of the Hawaiian green sea turtle stock. Ecol Modell 205:93–109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chaloupka M, Limpus C, Miller J (2004) Green turtle somatic growth dynamics in a spatially disjunct Great Barrier Reef metapopulation. Coral Reefs 23:325–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cleveland R, Cleveland W, McRae J, Terpenning P (1990) STL: a seasonal-trend decomposition procedure based on Loess. J Official Stat 6:3–73

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellis D, Balazs G, Gilmartin W, Murakawa S, Katahira L (2000) Short-range reproductive migrations of hawksbill turtles in the Hawaiian islands as determined by satellite telemetry. In: Abreu A, Briseno R, Marquez R, Sarti L (eds) Proceedings of the eighteenth international sea turtle symposium. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-436, pp 252–253

  • Epperly S, Braun J, Chester A, Cross F, Merriner J, Tester P, Churchill J (1996) Beach strandings as an indicator of at-sea mortality of sea turtles. Bull Mar Sci 59:289–297

    Google Scholar 

  • FAO (2004) Report of the Expert Consultation on interactions between sea turtles and fisheries within an ecosystem context. FAO Fisheries Report Number 738. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, 9–12 March 2004, p. 37

  • Fleiss J (1981) Statistical methods for rates and proportions, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Foley A, Schroeder A, Redlow A, Fick-Child K, Teas W (2005) Fibropapillomatosis in stranded green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from the eastern United States (1980–98): trends and associations with environmental factors. J Wildl Dis 41:29–41

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frazier J (1980) Exploitation of marine turtles in the Indian Ocean. Human Ecol 8:329–370

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hart K, Mooreside P, Crowder L (2006) Interpreting the spatio-temporal patterns of sea turtle strandings: going with the flow. Biol Conserv 129:283–290

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hastie T, Tibshirani J (1990) Generalized additive models. Monographs on statistics and applied probability 43. Chapman and Hall, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Ihaka R, Gentleman R (1996) R: a language for data analysis and graphics. J Comput Grap Stat 5:299–314

    Google Scholar 

  • Jackson J, Kirby M, Berger W, Bjorndal K, Botsford L, Bourque R, 13 others (2001) Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293:629–638

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kreuder C, Miller M, Jessup D, Lowenstine L, Harris M, Ames J, Carpenter T, Conrad P, Mazet J (2003) Patterns of mortality in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) from 1998–2001. J Wildl Dis 39:495–509

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Limpus C, Reed P (1985) Green sea turtles Chelonia mydas stranded by Cyclone Kathy on the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Aust Wildl Res 12:523–534

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lopez A, Santos M, Pierce G, Gonzalez A, Valeiras X, Guerrs A (2002) Trends in strandings and by-catch of marine mammals in north-west Spain during the 1990s. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 82:513–521

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lugo-Fernandez A, Morin M, Ebesmeyer C, Marshall C (2001) Gulf of Mexico historic (1955–1987) surface drifter data analysis. J Coast Res 17:1–16

    Google Scholar 

  • MacLeod C, Pierce G, Santos M (2004) Geographic and temporal variations in strandings of beaked whales (Ziphiidae) on the coasts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland from 1800–2002. J Cetacean Res Manage 6:79–86

    Google Scholar 

  • Maldini D, Mazzuca L, Atkinson S (2005) Odontocete strandings patterns in the main Hawaiian Islands (1937–2002): how do they compare with live animal surveys? Pac Sci 59:55–67

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murakawa S, Balazs G, Ellis D, Hau S, Eames S (2000) Trends in fibropapillomatosis among green turtles stranded in the Hawaiian Islands, 1982–1998. In: Kalb H, Wibbels T (eds) Proceedings of the nineteenth annual symposium on sea turtle biology and conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-443, pp 239–241

  • Nitta E, Henderson J (1993) A review of interactions between Hawaii’s fisheries and protected species. Mar Fish Rev 55:83–92

    Google Scholar 

  • Parsons J (1962) The green turtle and man. University of Florida Press, Gainsville

    Google Scholar 

  • Pinedo M, Polacheck T (1999) Trends in franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) stranding rates in Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil (1979–1998). J Cetacean Res Manage 1:179–189

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz F (2000) Body-organ weight relationships of stranded loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, with an examination of the effects of the environment causing their demise. J Elisha Mitchell Sci Soc 116:86–90

    Google Scholar 

  • Wibbels T, Balazs G, Owens D, Amoss M (1993) Sex ratios of immature green turtles inhabiting the Hawaiian Archipelago. J Herpetol 27:327–329

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Work T, Balazs G, Rameyer R, Morris R (2004) Retrospective pathology survey of green turtles Chelonia mydas with fibropapillomatosis in the Hawaiian Islands, 1993–2003. Dis Aquat Organ 62:163–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zapata A, Varas A, Torroba M (1992) Seasonal variations in the immune system of lower vertebrates. Immunol Today 13:142–147

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zug G, Wetherall J, Balazs G, Parker D, Murakawa S (2002) Age and growth in Hawaiian green seaturtles (Chelonia mydas): an analysis based on skeletochronology. Fish Bull 100:117–127

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

For extensive long-term support of and contributions to the Hawaiian sea turtle stranding research program we thank the following individuals, agencies and organizations: Bridget McBride, Donna Brown, Shandell Brunson, Sallie Beavers, John Coney, Skippy Hau, Leon Hallacher, Don Heacock, Cody Hooven, Joy Oliveira, Erin Siebert, Sherwood Maynard, Bill Puleloa, Marc Rice, Denise Parker, State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, Marine Option Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and at Hilo and Maui Community College, the Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This work was supported by a NOAA Fisheries Contract to the first author.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Milani Chaloupka.

Additional information

Communicated by P.W. Sammarco.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chaloupka, M., Work, T.M., Balazs, G.H. et al. Cause-specific temporal and spatial trends in green sea turtle strandings in the Hawaiian Archipelago (1982–2003). Mar Biol 154, 887–898 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-008-0981-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-008-0981-4

Keywords

  • Green Turtle
  • Fishing Gear
  • Hawaiian Archipelago
  • Olive Ridley
  • Main Hawaiian Island