Marine Biology

, Volume 154, Issue 5, pp 887–898 | Cite as

Cause-specific temporal and spatial trends in green sea turtle strandings in the Hawaiian Archipelago (1982–2003)

  • Milani ChaloupkaEmail author
  • Thierry M. Work
  • George H. Balazs
  • Shawn K. K. Murakawa
  • Robert Morris
Original Paper


We investigated cause-specific temporal and spatial trends in sea turtle strandings in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Five species of sea turtle were recorded in 3,861 strandings over a 22-year period (1982–2003). Green turtles comprised 97% of these strandings with size and gender composition reflecting the demographic structure of the resident green turtle population and relative green turtle abundance in Hawaiian waters. The cause of strandings was determined by necropsy based on a complete gross external and internal examination. Totally 75% of the 3,732 green turtle strandings were from Oahu where strandings occur year-round. The most common known cause of the green turtle strandings was the tumour-forming disease, fibropapillomatosis (28%) followed by hook-and-line fishing gear-induced trauma (7%), gillnet fishing gear-induced trauma (5%), boat strike (2.5%), and shark attack (2.7%). Miscellaneous causes comprised 5.4% of strandings whereas 49% of green turtle strandings could not be attributed to any known cause. Green turtle strandings attributable to boat strike were more likely from Kauai and Oahu while fibropapilloma strandings were more likely from Oahu and Maui. Hook-and-line gear strandings were more likely from Oahu due to higher per capita inshore fishing effort. The specific mortality rate (conditional probability) for fibropapillomatosis was 88%, 69% for gillnet gear and 52% for hook-and-line gear. The probability of a dead green turtle stranding increased from 1982 but levelled off by the mid-1990s. The declining mortality risk was because the prevalence and severity of fibropapillomatosis has decreased recently and so has the mortality risk attributable to gillnet gear. Despite exposure to disease and inshore fishing gears, the Hawaiian green turtle stock continues to recover following protection since the late 1970s. Nevertheless, measures to reduce incidental capture of sea turtles in coastal Hawaiian fisheries would be prudent, especially since strandings attributable to hook-and-line fishing gear have increased steadily since 1982.


Green Turtle Fishing Gear Hawaiian Archipelago Olive Ridley Main Hawaiian Island 
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For extensive long-term support of and contributions to the Hawaiian sea turtle stranding research program we thank the following individuals, agencies and organizations: Bridget McBride, Donna Brown, Shandell Brunson, Sallie Beavers, John Coney, Skippy Hau, Leon Hallacher, Don Heacock, Cody Hooven, Joy Oliveira, Erin Siebert, Sherwood Maynard, Bill Puleloa, Marc Rice, Denise Parker, State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, Marine Option Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and at Hilo and Maui Community College, the Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This work was supported by a NOAA Fisheries Contract to the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milani Chaloupka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thierry M. Work
    • 2
  • George H. Balazs
    • 3
  • Shawn K. K. Murakawa
    • 3
  • Robert Morris
    • 4
  1. 1.Ecological Modelling Services Pty LtdUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.USGS-National Wildlife Health CenterHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Pacific Islands Fisheries Science CenterNOAA National Marine Fisheries ServiceHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.KailuaUSA

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