Insights on leatherback turtle movements and high use areas in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean

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Abstract

Leatherback sea turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, undertake broad oceanic movements while traveling between breeding and foraging areas. While satellite telemetry has been used to investigate long-term movements and diving patterns of leatherback turtles around the world, behavioral information for this species in the South Atlantic Ocean is limited. Here we present the first data on movements, habitat use and diving behavior of leatherback turtles in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean (SWA). Four leatherback turtles (two females, one male and one subadult) were fitted with satellite relayed data loggers (SRDL) in 2005 and 2006 after being incidentally captured by industrial (high seas pelagic longlines) and artisanal (coastal bottom-set gillnets) Uruguayan fisheries. Turtles tended to remain in the western side of the South Atlantic Ocean where specific areas were frequented, in one instance showing a round-trip migration between temperate and tropical waters. Previously unidentified high use areas were recognized along continental shelf and break waters in the SWA, both in temperate and tropical regions. Leatherback turtles exhibited seasonal migration patterns and displayed marked changes in diving behavior between high use areas. Furthermore, our results highlight the importance of the Rio de la Plata estuary as a key foraging area for D. coriacea in the SWA which should be considered a central focus of attention for future research and conservation efforts. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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López-Mendilaharsu, M., Rocha, C. F. D., Miller, P., Domingo, A., & Prosdocimi, L. (2009). Insights on leatherback turtle movements and high use areas in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 378(1–2), 31–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.07.010

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