Tracking leatherback turtles from the world's largest rookery: assessing threats across the South Atlantic
Augowet Bonguno, E
Broderick, Annette C.
Mounguengui Mounguengui, GA
Proc Biol Sci
Despite extensive work carried out on leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in the North Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, very little is known of the at-sea distribution of this species in the South Atlantic, where the world's largest population nests in Gabon (central Africa). This paucity of data is of marked concern given the pace of industrialization in fisheries with demonstrable marine turtle bycatch in African/Latin American waters. We tracked the movements of 25 adult female leatherback turtles obtaining a range of fundamental and applied insights, including indications for methodological advancement. Individuals could be assigned to one of three dispersal strategies, moving to (i) habitats of the equatorial Atlantic, (ii) temperate habitats off South America or (iii) temperate habitats off southern Africa. While occupying regions with high surface chlorophyll concentrations, these strategies exposed turtles to some of the world's highest levels of longline fishing effort, in addition to areas with coastal gillnet fisheries. Satellite tracking highlighted that at least 11 nations should be involved in the conservation of this species in addition to those with distant fishing fleets. The majority of tracking days were, however, spent in the high seas, where effective implementation of conservation efforts is complex to achieve.
addresses: Centre for Ecology and Conservation, School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.
notes: PMCID: PMC3119016
types: Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
Vol. 278, Issue 1716, pp. 2338 - 2347
Place of publication