Eighteen years of saturation tagging data reveal a significant increase in nesting hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) on Long Island, Antigua


Peri Mason, Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
Email: chelys44@yahoo.com


Hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata nesting on Long Island, Antigua, West Indies (also known as Jumby Bay) has been monitored since 1987. Although the numbers of nesting females remained relatively constant for the first 11 survey seasons (1987–1997), inclusion of more recent data (1998–2004) in the analysis reveals a statistically significant upward trend. In particular, neophytes have shown a significant upturn in numbers, whereas the remigrant subpopulation has remained stationary. This indicates that recruitment is driving the upward trend in the total number of nesters. Predictive models based on the Poisson distribution suggest that the neophyte subpopulation will continue to grow in size by an average of 10% per annum. Model-based predictions and their limitations are discussed. The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, which has monitored and protected nesting hawksbills and their eggs since the project's onset, is one among several factors that may contribute to the recent increase in nesting females.