Nesting Behavior, Growth Rates, and Size Distribution of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta Caretta) on Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge: An Evaluation of Recruitment In Georgia
Term of Award
Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)
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Thesis (open access)
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Biology
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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.
Cason, Heather L., "Nesting Behavior, Growth Rates, and Size Distribution of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta Caretta) on Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge: An Evaluation of Recruitment In Georgia" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 730.
Research Data and Supplementary Material