Habitat utilization by juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Linnaeus, 1766) around a shallow water coral reef

Houghton, Jonathan D.R., Callow, Martin J. and Hays, Graeme C. 2003, Habitat utilization by juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Linnaeus, 1766) around a shallow water coral reef, Journal of natural history, vol. 37, no. 10, pp. 1269-1280, doi: 10.1080/00222930110104276.

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Title Habitat utilization by juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Linnaeus, 1766) around a shallow water coral reef
Author(s) Houghton, Jonathan D.R.
Callow, Martin J.
Hays, Graeme C.ORCID iD for Hays, Graeme C. orcid.org/0000-0002-3314-8189
Journal name Journal of natural history
Volume number 37
Issue number 10
Start page 1269
End page 1280
Total pages 12
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication Abingdon, England
Publication date 2003-05-20
ISSN 0022-2933
1464-5262
Keyword(s) Seychelles
Indian Ocean
sea turtle
diving behaviour
optimal depth
buoyancy control
Summary Contemporary studies of sea turtle diving behaviour are generally based upon sophisticated techniques such as the attachment of time depth recorders. However, if the risks of misinterpretation are to be minimized, it is essential that electronic data are analysed in the light of first-hand observations. To this aim, we set out to make observations of juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Linnaeus, 1766) foraging and resting in a shallow water coral reef habitat around the granitic Seychelles (4°'S, 55°'E). Data were collected from six study sites characterized by a shallow reef plateau (<5 m) and a flat sandy area at the base of the reef face (<10 m). Observation data were categorized into the following behaviours: (1) stationary foraging; (2) active foraging; (3) resting; and (4) assisted resting. Central to this investigation was the development of a technique for accurately estimating the size of sea turtles in situ based upon previously tested techniques for reef fishes. This revealed that through calibration, the curved carapace length (CCL) of marine turtles can be consistently estimated to within 10 cm of their actual size. Although rudimentary, this has advantages for assessing the residency or absence of specific life history stages from particular environments. Indeed, our data supported previous claims that following the reproductive season, adult hawksbills in the region may move away from the nesting beaches to alternative foraging grounds whilst immature turtles (following the pelagic juvenile stage) may opt to reside in areas close to their natal beaches. With regards to habitat utilization, juvenile hawksbills displayed an alternating pattern of short, shallow foraging dives followed by deeper, longer resting dives. These findings are consistent with previous electronic studies of free-range diving in this species and suggest that the maximization of resting duration may be an important factor driving this behaviour.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/00222930110104276
Field of Research 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2003, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30058229

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