Term of Award

2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

David Rostal

Committee Member 1

Bruce Schulte

Committee Member 2

Lance McBrayer

Abstract

An eight year study of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) was conducted on Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge (BLB NWR). A 3 month in-water survey also was conducted in 2008 along the coast of Georgia and Northern Florida. The nesting trends on BLB NWR were evaluated to provide updated information for existing management plans as well as to determine if recruitment was occurring. The in-water study also shed insight on the status of recovery for the population as a whole. The remigration interval, a key nesting trend, averaged 2.93 years, higher than previous studies in Georgia. Females nesting on BLB NWR grew an average of 0.48 cm/yr. The population was composed of mostly medium-sized individuals, although the newly PIT tagged individuals were classified in the small to medium size classes (based on curved carapace length). In-water captures were composed mostly of medium-sized juveniles with very low numbers of adults (>85cm), although surveys were conducted during the nesting season. Only 0.47 % of the in-water observations were recaptures. Due to the increase in small, newly tagged individuals on BLB NWR and the low number of recaptures from the in-water study, the result of this study suggests that recruitment is taking place in the C. caretta population of Georgia, and the population is on its way to recovery.

Share

COinS