Marine Biology

, 164:187 | Cite as

Fastloc-GPS reveals daytime departure and arrival during long-distance migration and the use of different resting strategies in sea turtles

  • Antoine M. DujonEmail author
  • Gail SchofieldEmail author
  • Rebecca E. Lester
  • Nicole Esteban
  • Graeme C. Hays
Original paper


Determining the time of day that animals initiate and end migration, as well as variation in diel movement patterns during migration, provides insights into the types of strategy used to maximise energy efficiency and ensure successful completion of migration. However, obtaining this level of detail has been difficult for long-distance migratory marine species. Thus, we investigated whether the large volume of highly accurate locations obtained by Argos-linked Fastloc-GPS transmitters could be used to identify the time of day that adult green (n = 8 turtles, 9487 locations) and loggerhead (n = 46 turtles, 47,588 locations) sea turtles initiate and end migration, along with potential resting strategies during migration. We found that departure from and arrival at breeding, stopover and foraging sites consistently occurred during the daytime, which is consistent with previous findings suggesting that turtles might use solar visual cues for orientation. Only seven turtles made stopovers (of up to 6 days and all located close to the start or end of migration) during migration, possibly to rest and/or refuel; however, observations of day versus night speed of travel indicated that turtles might use other mechanisms to rest. For instance, turtles travelled 31% slower at night compared to day during their oceanic crossings. Furthermore, within the first 24 h of entering waters shallower than 100 m towards the end of migration, some individuals travelled 72% slower at night, repeating this behaviour intermittently (each time for a one-night duration at 3–6 day intervals) until reaching the foraging grounds. Thus, access to data-rich, highly accurate Argos-linked Fastloc-GPS provided information about differences in day versus night activity at different stages in migration, allowing us, for the first time, to compare the strategies used by a marine vertebrate with terrestrial land-based and flying species.



We are grateful to Professor Gerry P. Quinn for providing statistical support and comments on the manuscript. We are grateful for support during Diego Garcia fieldwork provided by Dr Jeanne A Mortimer, BF BIOT, MRAG Ltd, NAVFACFE PWD DG Environmental Department, and the many volunteers on Diego Garcia in October 2012.

Author contributions

GS and GCH conceived the study. GS, NE and GCH conducted the fieldwork. AMD and GS assimilated the data and conducted the analyses, with input from GCH and REL. AMD and GS led the writing, with input from NE, REL and GCH.

Compliance with ethical standards


Green turtle Argos-linked Fastloc-GPS tracking data were supported by a Grant to GCH from the Darwin Initiative Challenge Fund Grant (EIDCF008), the Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and financial assistance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and College of Science of Swansea University.

Ethical standards

Permits and ethical approval to attach transmitters to loggerhead turtles were provided by the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. Permits for attachment of transmitters to green turtles in the Chagos Archipelago were issued by the Commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Fieldwork was approved by the Swansea University Ethics Committee and the BIOT Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) of the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

227_2017_3216_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (313 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 313 kb)
227_2017_3216_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (351 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 350 kb)
227_2017_3216_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (277 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 276 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Integrative EcologyDeakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia
  2. 2.Department of BiosciencesSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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