Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Abstract

Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) participate in reproductive migrations from resident foraging grounds to breeding grounds where they mate and subsequently nest on beaches. Little literature exists on how these reproductive migrations may be influencing the nest productivity observed among individuals in the Caribbean. This study investigated the relationship between migration distance and reproductive success among 28 satellite tagged hawksbill turtles nesting on Buck Island, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Information on the movement patterns and indices of reproductive success were compiled for each individual turtle and weighted linear regressions were performed to determine if migration distance was a predictor of reproductive success. No significant relationships were determined between the distance a turtle traveled to Buck Island and their respective reproductive output. Migration distance was not a predictor of clutch frequency, clutch size, hatch/emergence success, remigration interval, or the number of unsuccessful nesting attempts a turtle displayed in a given nesting season. Reproductive success was highly variable among individuals. Although no differences existed in the reproductive output among these turtles, it is likely that site fidelity to certain foraging grounds may hold other ecological advantages. This study highlights the importance of long-term beach monitoring programs and continued satellite telemetry efforts to promote effective, comprehensive management solutions to ensure the future viability of this critically endangered sea turtle species.

Comments

Department: MES

MPS Track: MCO

Location: National Park Service/American Conservation Experience

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