International movements of adult female leatherback turtles in the Caribbean: Results from tag recovery data (2002-2013)

J. A. Horrocks, S. Stapleton, H. Guada, C. Lloyd, E. Harris, M. Fastigi, J. Berkel, K. Stewart, J. Gumbs, K. L. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea nest across the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR), including at low densities in many Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Most (87.8%) WCR governments protect the species from direct harvest; however, gravid females are at risk as they pass through unprotected regimes, especially among Eastern Caribbean SIDS where mortality can threaten the remnant nesting assemblages that characterize most Caribbean islands. We summarize flipper tag recovery data of adult females moving between WCR States or between islands within States. Between January 2002 and December 2013, WC-series tags obtained from WIDECAST's Marine Turtle Tagging Centre in Barbados were attached to 3151 leatherbacks. Most (64.3%) were tagged in Eastern Caribbean SIDS, with the remainder tagged in Guyana, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. The majority of females continued to nest at the location of tagging, but 211 tagged females were recovered elsewhere on 240 occasions, including 22 different sites in 17 countries. Females travelled significantly greater straight line distances between locations in different nesting seasons (x = 218.9 km) than within nesting seasons (x = 160.6 km). Rates of within- and between-season recoveries (2.8 and 4.3%, respectively) are similar to previously published estimates, but are likely to be underestimates, as few of the 470 known nesting beaches in the WCR are nocturnally monitored. Our data support a North Caribbean nesting population, a Southern Caribbean/Guianas stock, and suggest the existence of a Central Antillean nesting population nesting primarily within Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and Saint Lucia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalEndangered Species Research
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Between-season nesting
  • Caribbean
  • Dermochelys coriacea
  • Leatherback
  • Nesting
  • Population structure
  • Tag recovery
  • WIDECAST
  • Within-season nesting

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    Horrocks, J. A., Stapleton, S., Guada, H., Lloyd, C., Harris, E., Fastigi, M., Berkel, J., Stewart, K., Gumbs, J., & Eckert, K. L. (2016). International movements of adult female leatherback turtles in the Caribbean: Results from tag recovery data (2002-2013). Endangered Species Research, 29(3), 279-287. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00718