Diving patterns of two leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) during internesting intervals at Sandy Point, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

TitleDiving patterns of two leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) during internesting intervals at Sandy Point, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1986
Refereed DesignationRefereed
AuthorsEckert, S. A., Nellis D. W., Eckert K. L., & Kooyman G. L.
JournalHerpetologica
Volume42
Issue3
Pagination381-388
Abstract

In an investigation to provide information on the diving patterns of leatherback sea turtles during their internesting interval, two leatherbacks were fitted with time-depth recording (TDR) units while nesting on Sandy Point, St. Croix. These TDR units continually recorded the diving patterns of each turtle including diving duration, diving depth, and surface time throughout the 10 day period between nesting bouts. Both turtles dove frequently and continuously throughout the entire period. Maximum dive depth was 475 m for the smaller turtle and 314 m for the larger one. Maximum dive time was 27.8 and 37.4 min, respectively. The larger turtle generally dove for longer durations than the smaller turtle. Mean diving depth and mean surface time were greater during the day; however there was no significant difference in mean diving time between day and night for either turtle. It is concluded that leatherback sea turtles are active divers during the internesting period, that their dive patterns, depths and durations are similar in various ways to other pelagic divers such as seals, sea lions and penguins, and that there is a consistent duration of dives that may reflect the aerobic limit.