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Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 873–885 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal patterns of juvenile marine turtle occurrence in waters of the European continental shelf

  • Matthew J. Witt
  • Rod Penrose
  • Brendan J. Godley
Research Article

Abstract

We present data spanning approximately 100 years regarding the spatial and temporal occurrence of marine turtle sightings and strandings in the northeast Atlantic from two public recording schemes and demonstrate potential signals of changing population status. Records of loggerhead (n = 317) and Kemp’s ridley (n = 44) turtles occurring on the European continental shelf were most prevalent during the autumn and winter, when waters were coolest. In contrast, endothermic leatherback turtles (n = 1,668) were most common during the summer. Analysis of the spatial distribution of hard-shell marine turtle sightings and strandings highlights a pattern of decreasing records with increasing latitude. The spatial distribution of sighting and stranding records indicates that arrival in waters of the European continental shelf is most likely driven by North Atlantic current systems. Future patterns of spatial-temporal distribution, gathered from the periphery of juvenile marine turtles habitat range, may allow for a broader assessment of the future impacts of global climate change on species range and population size.

Keywords

British Isle Green Turtle Marine Turtle Loggerhead Turtle Nest Beach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are indebted to Dr Duguy for his annual publications on marine turtles in French waters and to the members of public for the reporting of sightings, strandings and captures of marine turtles in the British Isles and France. We thank M Godfrey, C McLellan, S Murphy and B Witherington for discussions during drafting of this manuscript. We show appreciation to J Braun-McNeil, L Avens and M Coyne for access to morphometric data on Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead turtles. We are especially grateful to A Broderick, M Godfrey, M Coyne, C Bell, J Blumenthal and L Hawkes for comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticism that lead to an improvement of this manuscript. TURTLE, operated by Marine Environmental Monitoring, receives financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage, English Nature, and the Countryside Council for Wales. This analysis was supported by grants to BJG from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Darwin Initiative, and UK Overseas Territories Environment Programme. MJW is funded by a NERC PhD studentship (NER/S/A/2004/12980) at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Witt
    • 1
  • Rod Penrose
    • 2
  • Brendan J. Godley
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Turtle Research Group, Centre for Ecology and ConservationUniversity of ExeterPenrynUK
  2. 2.Marine Environmental MonitoringWalesUK

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