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Supplementary Tables from First Atlantic satellite tracks of ‘lost Years’ green turtles support the importance of the Sargasso Sea as a Sea turtle nursery

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journal contribution
posted on 04.05.2021, 07:58 by Katherine L. Mansfield, Jeanette Wyneken, Jiangang Luo
In-water behaviour and long-term movements of oceanic-stage juvenile sea turtles are not well described or quantified. This is due to technological or logistical limitations of tracking small, fast-growing animals across long distances and time periods within marine habitats. Here, we present the first long-term offshore tracks of oceanic green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in western North Atlantic waters. Using a tag attachment technique developed specifically for young (less than 1-year old) green turtles, we satellite-tracked 21 oceanic-stage green turtles (less than 19 cm straight carapace length) up to 152 days using small, solar-powered transmitters. We verify that oceanic-stage green turtles: (i) travel to and remain within oceanic waters; (ii) often depart the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre currents, orienting toward waters associated with the Sargasso Sea; (iii) remain at the sea surface, using thermally beneficial habitats that promote growth and survival of young turtles and (iv) green turtles orient differently compared to same stage loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Combined with satellite tracks of oceanic-stage loggerhead turtles, our work identifies the Sargasso Sea as an important nursery habitat for North Atlantic sea turtles, supporting a growing body of research that suggests oceanic-stage sea turtles are behaviourally more complex than previously assumed.