Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 111–119 | Cite as

Assessing the effects of multiple off-road vehicle (ORVs) tyre ruts on seaward orientation of hatchling sea turtles: implications for conservation

  • M. AguileraEmail author
  • M. Medina-Suárez
  • J. Pinós
  • A. Liria
  • L. F. López-Jurado
  • L. Benejam


The time it takes a hatchling sea turtle to cross a beach and reach the sea after emergence considerably affects its ability to avoid predators and survive this first journey. Impediments, such as tyre ruts across a hatchling’s route, may increase the travel time and, consequently, reduce the probability of survival. To assess the effects of multiple tyre ruts on the seaward orientation of hatchling loggerhead sea turtles, we performed a census of tracks on several beaches on Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde. Through this census, we were able to calculate the average number of tyre ruts a hatchling is likely to encounter on its way to the sea; we also determined the depth and width of those ruts and the distance between tracks. Based on these results, we designed and carried out a field test to analyse five different experimental treatments along a 15-m test path length. The experimental treatments included minor, moderate, and severe tyre rut scenarios, as well as a management scenario and a control. The length of time it took hatchlings (n = 162) to traverse each treatment was recorded. We found that each treatment significantly affected the time it took the hatchlings to reach the sea, and our generalized linear models (GLMs) indicated that it took the turtles longer to cross the areas with a greater number of tracks and with deeper tracks. Our results show that vehicle use on beaches has an effect on loggerhead hatchling dispersal. These findings highlight the importance of beach management and the promotion of a sustainable development plan to increase hatchling recruitment.


Conservation Seaward orientation Hatchlings Marine turtles Off-road vehicles Threats 



We gratefully acknowledge the funding support from the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund (MTCF)–US Fisheries and Wildlife Service (NOAA, EE.UU) (Grant # F14 AC00213) and the Cabo Verde Natura 2000 volunteers who assisted in collecting data. The authors utilized the Maptool program ( to develop the graphics in this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Animal rights

All applicable international and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


  1. Álvarez de Quevedo I, San Félix M, Cardona L (2013) Mortality rates in by-caught loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean Sea and implications for the Atlantic populations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berry M, Limpus CJ, Booth DT (2013) Artificial lighting and disrupted sea-finding behaviour in hatchling loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) on the Woongarra coast, south-East Queensland, Australia. Aust J Zool 61:37–145. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bolten AB (1999) Techniques for measuring sea turtles. In: Eckert, K.L., Bjorndal, K.A.,. Abreu-Grobois, F.A., Donnelly, M. (eds). Research and management techniques for the conservation of sea turtles. IUCN/SSC marine turtle specialist group publication. 4, 110–114Google Scholar
  4. Bourgeois S, Gilot-Fromont E, Viallefont A, Boussamba F, Deem SL (2009) Influence of artificial lights, logs and erosion on leatherback sea turtle hatchling orientation at Pongara National Park, Gabon. Biol Conserv 142:85–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Camacho M, Boada LD, Orós J, López P, Zumbado M, Almeida-González M, Luzardo OP (2014) Monitoring organic and inorganic pollutants in juvenile live sea turtles: results from a study of Chelonia mydas and Eretmochelys imbricata in Cape Verde. Sci Total Environ 481:303–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casale P, Marco A (2015) Caretta caretta (North East Atlantic subpopulation). The IUCN red list of threatened species. 2015:e.T83776383A83776554Google Scholar
  7. Christ C, Hillel O, Matus S, Sweeting J (2003) Tourism and biodiversity: mapping Tourism’s global footprint. Conservation International and UNEP, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  8. Costello MJ, Coll M, Danovaro R, Halpin P, Ojaveer H, Miloslavich P (2010) A census of marine biodiversity knowledge, resources, and future challenges. PLoS One 5:e12110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Demner RJ (1981) The hatching and emergence of loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) hatchlings. University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, Master’s thesis, 40 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. Fujisaki I, Lamont MM (2016) The effects of large beach debris on nesting sea turtles. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 482:33–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gyuris E (1994) The rate of predation by fishes on hatchlings of the green turtle. Coral Reefs 13:137–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Halpern BS, Walbridge S, Selkoe KA, Kappel CV, Micheli F, D'Agrosa C, Bruno JF, Casey KS, Ebert C, Fox HE, Fujita R, Heinemann D, Lenihan HS, Madin EMP, Perry MT, Selig ER, Spalding M, Steneck R, Watson R (2008) A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science 319:948–952. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hardiman N, Burgin S (2010) Recreational impacts on the fauna of Australian coastal marine ecosystems. J Environ Manag 91:2096–2108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harewood A (2007) Impacts of coastal development on the nesting behaviour, nest success and hatchling viability of hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in Barbados, West Indies, MPhil thesis, University of the West Indies, St. Michael, BarbadosGoogle Scholar
  15. Harewood A, Horrocks J (2008) Impacts of coastal development on hawksbill hatchling survival and swimming success during the initial offshore migration. Biol Conserv 14:394–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hart KA, Gray T, Steada SM (2013) Consumptive versus non-consumptive use of sea turtles? Stakeholder perceptions about sustainable use in three communities near Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica. Mar Policy 42:236–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hays GC, Fossette S, Katselidis KA, Schofield G, Gravenor MB (2010) Breeding periodicity for male sea turtles: good news for conservation in the face of climate change. Conserv Biol 24:1636–1643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Herbst LH, Jacobson ER (1995) Diseases of marine turtles. In: Bjorndal K (ed) Biology and conservation of sea turtles. Smithsonian Insitution Press, Whashington, D.C., pp 595–596Google Scholar
  19. Hosier PE, Kochlar M, Thayer V (1981) Off-road vehicle and pedestrian track effects on the sea-approach of hatchling loggerhead turtles. Environ Conserv 8:158–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Houser C, Labude L, Wymer B (2013) Impacts of driving on the beach: case studies from Assateague Island and Padre Island National Seashores. Ocean Coast Manage 71:33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. INE (2013) <>
  22. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015). Version 2015-4. <>. Downloaded on 12 December 2015
  23. Katselidis KA, Schofield G, Stamou G, Dimopoulos P, Pantis JD (2013) Evidence-based management to regulate the impact of tourism at a key marine turtle rookery on Zakynthos Island, Greece. Oryx 47:584–594. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Katselidis KA, Schofield G, Stamou G, Dimopoulos P, Pantis JD (2014) Employing Sea-level rise scenarios to strategically select sea turtle nesting habitat important for long-term management at a temperate breeding area. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 450:47–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Keller JM, Balazs GH, Nilsen F, Rice M, Work TM, Jensen BA (2014) Investigating the potential role of persistent organic pollutants in Hawaiian green sea turtle fibropapillomatosis. Environ Sci Technol 48:7807–7816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kraemer JE, Bennett SH (1981) Utilization of posthatchling yolk in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). Copeia 2:406–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lamont MM, Percival HF, Colwell SV (2002) Influence of vehicle tracks on loggerhead hatchling seaward movement along a Northwest Florida beach. Florida Field Naturalist 30:77–109Google Scholar
  28. Lohmann KJ, Lohmann CMF (1996) Orientation and open-sea navigation in sea turtles. J Exp Biol 199:73–81Google Scholar
  29. Lohmann KJ, Witherington BE, Lohmann CMF, Salmon M (1997) Orientation, navigation, and natal beach homing in sea turtles. In: Lutz PL, Musik JA (eds) The biology of sea turtles. CRC, Boca Raton, pp 107–136Google Scholar
  30. López-Jurado, L.F., Sanz, P., Abella, E. (2007). Loggerhead nesting on Boa Vista, República de Cabo Verde SWOT Report—State of the World’s Sea Turtles, 2Google Scholar
  31. Lorne JK, Salmon M (2007) Effects of exposure to artificial lighting on orientation of hatchling sea turtles on the beach and in the ocean. Endanger Species Res 3:23–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lucrezi S, Saayman M, Van der Merwe P (2014) Impact of off-road vehicles (ORV’s) on ghost crabs of sandy beaches with traffic regulations: a case study of Sodwana Bay. Environ Manag 53:520–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mann TM (1997) Impact of developed coastline on nesting and hatchling sea turtles in southeastern Florida. Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, M.S. Thesis. FloridaGoogle Scholar
  34. Marco A, Abella E, Martins S, Liria Loza A, Jiménez Bordón S, Medina Suarez ME, Oujo Alamo C, López O, López-Jurado LF (2010). The coast of Cape Verde constitutes the third largest loggerhead nesting population in the world. In: 30st Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Goa, India, April 2010Google Scholar
  35. Marco A, Abella-Pérez E, Monzón-Argüello C, Martins S, Araujo S, López-Jurado LF (2011) The international importance of the archipelago of Cape Verde for marine turtles, in particular the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta. Zool CV 2:1–11Google Scholar
  36. Marco A, Abella E, Liria-Loza A, Martins S, López O, Jiménez-Bordón S, Medina M, Oujo C, Gaona P, Godley BJ, López-Jurado LF (2012) Abundance and exploitation of loggerhead turtles nesting in Boa Vista island, Cape Verde: the only substantial rookery in the eastern Atlantic. Anim Conserv 15:351–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Martínez-Abraín A, Oro D, Jiménez J, Stewart G, Pullin A (2010) A systematic review of the effects of recreational activities on nesting birds of prey. Basic Appl Ecol 11:312–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Moss D, McPhee DP (2006) The impacts of recreational four wheel driving on the abundance of the ghost crab (Ocypode cordimanus) on a subtropical sandy beach in SE Queensland. Coast Manag 34:133–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mrosovsky N, Shettleworth SJ (1968) Wavelength preferences and brightness cues in the water finding behavior of sea turtles. Behaviour 32:211–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nester LR (2006) Effects of off-road vehicles on the nesting activity of loggerhead sea turtles in North Carolina. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA, M.S. Thesis. School of Natural Resource and the EnvironmentGoogle Scholar
  41. Patino-Martínez J, Godley BJ, Quiñones L, Marco A (2017) Impact of tropical forest logging on the reproductive success of leatherback turtles. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 569:205–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pilcher NJ, Enderby S (2001) Effects of prolonged retention in hatcheries on green turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchling swimming speed and survival. J Herpetol 35:633–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Priskin J (2003) Physical impacts of four-wheel drive related tourism and recreation in a semi-arid, natural environment. Ocean Coast Manag 46:127–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rickard CA, McLachlan A, Kerley GIH (1994) The effects of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on dune vegetation in South Africa. Ocean Coast Manag 23:225–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rivas ML, Marco A (2016) The effect of dune vegetation on leatherback hatchling’s sea-finding ability. Mar Biol 163:13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Salmon M (2003) Artificial night lighting and sea turtles. Biologist 50:163–168Google Scholar
  47. Salmon M, Wyneken J, Fritz E, Lucas M (1992) Seafinding by hatchling sea turtles: role of brightness, silhouette and beach slope as orientation cues. Behaviour 122:56–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Santos RG, Martins AS, Farias JDN, Horta PA, Pinheiro HT, Torezani E, Baptistotte C, Seminoff JA, Balazs GH, Work TM (2011) Coastal habitat degradation and green sea turtle diets in southeastern Brazil. Mar Pollut Bull 62:1297–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Santos RG, Andrades R, Boldrini MA, Martins AS (2015) Debris ingestion by juvenile marine turtles: an underestimated problem. Mar Pollut Bull 93:37–43. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schlacher TA, Thompson LMC (2008) Physical impacts caused by off-road vehicles to sandy beaches: spatial quantification of car tracks on an Australian barrier island. J Coast Res 224:234–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schlacher TA, Richardson D, McLean I (2008) Impacts of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on macrobenthic assemblages on sandy beaches. Environ Manag 41:878–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Silva E, Marco A, Da Graça J, Pérez H, Abella E, Patino-Martinez J, Martins S, Almeida C (2017) Light pollution affects nesting behavior of loggerhead turtles and predation risk of nests and hatchlings. J Photochem Photobiol B 173:240–249Google Scholar
  53. Smith RC, Godley BJ, Broderick AC (1998). The effect of predation by the ghost crab, Ocypode cursor, on eggs and hatchlings of marine turtles in N. Cyprus. In: Byles R., Fernandez Y. (comps.), Proceedings of the 16th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFSC-412, Miami, FL, p. 126Google Scholar
  54. Tomillo PS, Saba VS, Piedra R, Paladino FV, Spotila JR (2008) Effects of illegal harvest of eggs on the population decline of leatherback turtles in Las Baulas marine National Park, Costa Rica. Conserv Biol 22:1216–1224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tomillo P, Paladino FV, Suss JS, Spotila JR (2010) Predation of leatherback turtle hatchlings during the crawl to the water. Chel Conserv Biol 9:18–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tomillo P, Genovart M, Paladino FV, Spotila JR, Oro D (2015) Climate change overruns resilience conferred by temperature-dependent sex determination in sea turtles and threatens their survival. Glob Chang Biol 21:2980–2988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Triessnig P, Roetzer A, Stachowitsch M (2012) Beach condition and marine debris: new hurdles for sea turtle hatchling survival. Chel Conserv Biol 11:68–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van der Merwe JP, West EJ, Ibrahim K (2012) Effects of off-road vehicle tyre ruts on the beach dispersal of green sea turtle Chelonia mydas hatchlings. Endanger Species Res 18:27–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Verutes GM, Huang C, Rodríguez Estrella E, Loyd K (2014) Exploring scenarios of light pollution from coastal development reaching sea turtle nesting beaches near Cabo Pulmo, Mexico. Global Ecol Conser 2:170–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wallace BP, Lewison RL, McDonald SL, McDonald RK, Kot CY, Kelez S, Bjorkland RK, Finkbeiner EM, Helmbrecht S, Crowder LB (2010) Global patterns of marine turtle bycatch. Conserv Lett 3:131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Watson JJ, Kerley GH, McLachlan.A. (1996) Human activity and potential impacts on dune breeding birds in the Alexandria coastal Dunefield. Landsc Urban Plan 34:315–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Williams JA, Ward VL, Underhill LG (2004) Waders respond quickly and positively to the banning of off-road vehicles from beaches in South Africa. Wader Study Group Bull 104:79–81Google Scholar
  63. Wilson SP, Verlis KM (2017) The ugly face of tourism: marine debris pollution linked to visitation in the southern great barrier reef, Australia. Mar Pollut Bull 117:239–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Witherington BE, Bjorndal KA (1991) Influences of artificial lighting on the seaward orientation of hatchling loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta. Biol Conserv 55:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Witherington BE, Martin RE (2000) Understanding, assessing and resolving light pollution problems on sea turtle nesting beaches, 2nd ed., rev. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Research Institute, Tech. Rep. TR-2, St. Petersburg, FL, 1–73Google Scholar
  66. World Tourism Organization, UNWTO (2016). Tourism highlights. 2016 Edition.
  67. Wyneken J, Salmon M (1992) Frenzy and postfrenzy swimming activity in loggerhead, green and leatherback hatchlings sea turtles. Copeia 2:478–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aquatic Ecology Group, BETA Technology CentreUniversity of Vic – Central University of CataloniaVicSpain
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain
  3. 3.NGO ADS BiodiversidadLas PalmasSpain
  4. 4.NGO Cabo Verde Natura 2000Sal-ReiCape Verde

Personalised recommendations