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Long-term spatial and temporal patterns of sea turtle strandings in southern Brazil

Abstract

Strandings of marine vertebrates along beaches have been widely used to infer threats and causes of mortality in adjacent waters. Understanding the influence of anthropogenic impacts on sea turtle survival is essential for effective conservation, yet limited data are available on the magnitude and patterns of sea turtle mortalities in southern Brazil. Our study reports sea turtle stranding data obtained from monthly beach surveys undertaken from 1995 to 2014 in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and when possible, we identify causes of mortality associated with different fisheries. A total of 6285 turtles of five species were encountered, with the three most common species being loggerhead (Caretta caretta; n = 3192), green (Chelonia mydas; n = 2572), and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea; n = 376). Generalized linear models demonstrated that loggerhead and green turtle strandings have increased over the last 10 years. Strandings were highest from October to March, which coincides with the greatest bottom pair trawl, gill net, and possibly double-rig trawl fishing effort near the coast. Our results provide a baseline to compare future sea turtle stranding patterns. For reducing sea turtle mortalities, we suggest that time/area closures and/or reduction in gill net, pair trawl, and possibly double-rig trawl fishing effort in coastal waters of southern Brazil during austral spring and summer be considered for future fisheries management plans.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Programa de Conservação e Manejo dos Pinípedes (NEMA) team that initially started collecting sea turtle stranding data at RSC, with special thanks to Kleber Grubel da Silva. We also thanks Joca Thomé and Renato Carvalho that are NEMA founders and who initially supported the Project ‘Tartarugas Marinhas no Rio Grande do Sul’ to start activities, and all researchers, students and volunteers from NEMA and Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha-EcoMega-FURG who participated on beach surveys and data collection over these 20 years. We are grateful to all vessels’ captain that voluntarily completed the logbooks and Karumbé, TAMAR and Centro de Recuperação de Animais Marinhos—CRAM–Universidade Federal do Rio Grande—FURG teams for partnership. We are also thankful to Larisa Avens and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable criticism to improve this manuscript. A special thanks to Neca Marcovaldi for kindly reviewing the manuscript. Financial support was provided by Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente, Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, Superintendência do Porto do Rio Grande, Ministério da Pesca e Aquicultura, PROBIO/MMA, Yaqu Pacha and Petrobras. Sampling was performed under SISBIO Licenses Nos. 15962 to 15962-5. This study is a contribution of the Research Group “Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha–EcoMega/CNPq”.

Funding

This study was funded by Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente, Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, Superintendência do Porto do Rio Grande, Ministério da Pesca e Aquicultura, PROBIO/MMA, Yaqu Pacha and Petrobras. D.S. Monteiro received scholarships from the ‘Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico—CNPq (Brazilian Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry) and ‘Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES’ (Ministry of Education) (Processes 144433/2012-5 and PDSE 6831-15-0). E.R. Secchi received a Research Fellowship from CNPq (PQ 307843/2014-0) and L. Bugoni received a Research Fellowship from CNPq (PQ 310550/2015-7). J. Seminoff and Y. Swimmer were supported by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Correspondence to Danielle S. Monteiro.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants. All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care of animals found stranded alive were followed. In our study we did not conduct experimental analysis with animals.

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Monteiro, D.S., Estima, S.C., Gandra, T.B.R. et al. Long-term spatial and temporal patterns of sea turtle strandings in southern Brazil. Mar Biol 163, 247 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-016-3018-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-016-3018-4

Keywords

  • Green Turtle
  • Loggerhead Turtle
  • White Croaker
  • Leatherback Turtle
  • Olive Ridley