2008 Sea Turtle Monitoring Report

Habitat use of black turtles (Chelonia mydas) in San Ignacio lagoon, Mexico

Jesse Senko1, Volker Koch2, William Megill3

1 University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA,
2 Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, La Paz, BCS, Mexico;
3 University of Bath, Bath, England, U;


San Ignacio Lagoon is part of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. The lagoon is shallow, protected, and serves as an important feeding and developmental area for the east Pacific green or black turtle, Chelonia mydas (Nichols 2003), which is currently listed as endangered (IUCN 2004). Black turtles, like most sea turtles, utilize several different habitats within their lifetime (Hirth 1997, Nichols 2003). Arguably the most important habitats for black turtles are neritic foraging areas where juveniles may spend 20 years or more (Seminoff et al. 2002a, Koch et al. 2007) until they reach maturity (Nichols 2003). Although recent studies (Seminoff et al. 2002b, Brooks 2005, Seminoff and Jones 2006) have provided a framework for spatial ecology of black turtles on their foraging areas, little detailed information is available regarding habitat use and movement patterns on a fine scale. Understanding the spatial requirements of black/green turtles during this critical life stage is fundamental to their conservation (Bjorndal 1997, Nichols 2003). Here we report preliminary results on the fine scale movement and activity patterns of immature black turtles and provide future research goals, objectives, and initiatives.

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