Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 183–190 | Cite as

Swimming behaviour and dispersal patterns of headstarted loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta

  • I. Nagelkerken
  • L.P.J.J. Pors
  • P. Hoetjes


Swimming behaviour and dispersal patterns were studied in headstarted loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta which were released at three different sites on the Caribbean island of Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles) and at one site on the neighbouring island of Klein Curaçao, after 1–2.5 yrs of captivity. Turtles were tagged and followed up to a distance of 6125 m offshore, using a boat with a Global Positioning Unit. The released turtles reverted to typical hatchling behaviour and showed an offshore migration almost perpendicular to the coastline. No significant differences were found in directional swimming among the four sites. The turtles swam almost continuously about 30 cm under the water surface; their mean overall swimming speed was higher than in adult wild loggerheads suggesting a 'frenzy'-like swimming stage. The turtles exhibited diving behaviour, and the dive frequency and duration was comparable to that of similar-sized (wild) turtles. The present study demonstrates that upon release the headstarted loggerheads behave naturally and show dispersal patterns similar to wild hatchling turtles. The fact that the released turtles were still able to show offshore directional swimming suggests that the headstarting did not affect their short-term orientation abilities.

Captive-rearing Dive performance Hatchling behaviour Offshore migration Swimming speed 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and EcophysiologyUniversity of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Carmabi FoundationCuraçaoNetherlands Antilles
  3. 3.Curaçao SeaquariumCuraçaoNetherlands Antilles

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