Sea turtle strandings reveal high anthropogenic mortality in Italian waters

Authors


Abstract

  • 1.Spatio-temporal distribution and anthropogenic mortality factors were investigated in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) found stranded or floating in the waters around Italy. A total of 5938 records for the period 1980–2008 were analysed concerning loggerhead turtles measuring from 3.8 to 97 cm curved carapace length (mean: 48.3 cm).
  • 2.Results highlighted the following conservation issues: (i) in the study area, anthropogenic mortality is higher than natural mortality; (ii) interaction with fisheries is by far the most important anthropogenic mortality factor; (iii) longlines are an important mortality factor in the southern areas; (iv) trawlers are the cause of high numbers of dead strandings in the north Adriatic; (v) entanglement in ghost-gear or in other anthropogenic debris affects high numbers of turtles; and (vi) boat strikes are an important source of mortality in most areas but mostly in the warm seasons.
  • 3.Results also indicate that: (vii) the north Adriatic is the area with the highest turtle density; and (viii) the south Adriatic and to a lesser extent the surrounding areas of the north Adriatic and the Ionian, are important developmental areas for loggerhead turtles in the first years of life.
  • 4.Italy is in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea and borders major foraging areas for the loggerhead turtles in the region, and these results confirm previous concerns about the level of anthropogenic mortality in Italian waters. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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