Sources and movements of marine turtles in the Gulf of Venezuela: regional and local assessments

Barrios-Garrido, H., Becker, P., Bjorndal, K.A., Bolten, A.B., Diez, C.E., Espinoza-rodriguez, N., Fastigi, M., Gray, J., Harrison, E., Hart, K.A., Meylan, A., Meylan, P., Montiel-villalobos, M.G., Morales, F., Nava, M., Palmar, J., Petit-Rodriguez, M.J., Richardson, P., Rodriguez-Clark, K.M., Rojas-Canizales, D., Sandoval, M.G., Valverde, R.A., van Dam, R., Walker, J.T., Wildermann, N., and Hamann, M. (2020) Sources and movements of marine turtles in the Gulf of Venezuela: regional and local assessments. Regional Studies in Marine Science, 36. 101318.

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Marine turtles are challenging species to protect because they occur over large geographic scales. Tagging individual turtles at nesting beaches and foraging areas, and the resulting mark-recapture data sets have gradually enabled us to understand marine turtle migratory behaviour and dispersal. Within the Caribbean region, several turtle tagging projects have led to longer-term evaluations and assessments of connectivity. Thus, marine turtle mark-recapture data is important for developing conservation strategies at regional-scale. In this study, we analyse turtle tagging data from the Gulf of Venezuela to determine regional (Caribbean and Atlantic geographic level) and local (within the Gulf of Venezuela) links. To achieve this, we retrieved, compiled, and analysed multiple databases with records of marine turtles that were tagged and then recaptured in the Gulf of Venezuela. Sixty-six tag return records were evaluated, 43 from animals initially tagged outside of the Gulf of Venezuela and then recaptured inside, plus 23 records retrieved from turtles that were tagged and recaptured within the Gulf of Venezuela. We found evidence of connectivity between 12 different locations where initial tagging events occurred, eight from other feeding areas and four from nesting beaches. We described four different movement patterns for 23 turtles tagged and re-captured within the Gulf of Venezuela. Most of the recapture records we obtained occurred after the turtles were known, or presumed, to have been killed by local fishers. Hence, knowing patterns of dispersal and connectivity are crucial to improving local and regional conservation and threat mitigation.

Item ID: 64362
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2352-4855
Keywords: Animal movement, Caribbean Basin, Migratory routes, Mark-recapture, Ontogenetic shifts
Copyright Information: ©2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funders: James Cook University, International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS)
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 07:32
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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