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J Exp Biol. 2017 Oct 1;220(Pt 19):3432-3441. doi: 10.1242/jeb.162644. Epub 2017 Jul 28.

Changes of loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) dive behavior associated with tropical storm passage during the inter-nesting period.

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Sound and Behaviour Group, Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA.
Department of Parks and Wildlife, Marine Science Program, 17 Dick Perry Avenue, Kensington, WA 6151, Australia.
Zoophysiology, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Loggerhead Instruments, Sarasota, FL 34238, USA.


To improve conservation strategies for threatened sea turtles, more knowledge on their ecology, behavior, and how they cope with severe and changing weather conditions is needed. Satellite and animal motion datalogging tags were used to study the inter-nesting behavior of two female loggerhead turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, which regularly has hurricanes and tropical storms during nesting season. We contrast the behavioral patterns and swimming energetics of these two turtles, the first tracked in calm weather and the second tracked before, during and after a tropical storm. Turtle 1 was highly active and swam at the surface or submerged 95% of the time during the entire inter-nesting period, with a high estimated specific oxygen consumption rate (0.95 ml min-1 kg-0.83). Turtle 2 was inactive for most of the first 9 days of the inter-nesting period, during which she rested at the bottom (80% of the time) with low estimated oxygen consumption (0.62 ml min-1 kg-0.83). Midway through the inter-nesting period, turtle 2 encountered a tropical storm and became highly active (swimming 88% of the time during and 95% after the storm). Her oxygen consumption increased significantly to 0.97 ml min-1 kg-0.83 during and 0.98 ml min-1 kg-0.83 after the storm. However, despite the tropical storm, turtle 2 returned to the nesting beach, where she successfully re-nested 75 m from her previous nest. Thus, the tropical storm had a minor effect on this female's individual nesting success, even though the storm caused 90% loss nests at Casey Key.


Activity level; Animal motion tags; Climate change; Loggerhead turtle; Satellite tags; Tropical storm

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Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsD.A.M. is President of Loggerhead Instruments, which designed and manufactured the open source tags used in the project. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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