Dive-depth distribution of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles in the central North Pacific: Might deep longline sets catch fewer turtles?
|Title||Dive-depth distribution of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles in the central North Pacific: Might deep longline sets catch fewer turtles?|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2003|
|Authors||Polovina, J. J., Howell E., Parker D. M., & Balazs G. H.|
Caught incidentally with these target species are leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Carretta carretta), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles.
Over the period 1994–99, it was estimated that an annual average of 418 loggerhead, 112 leatherback, 146 olive ridley, and 40 green sea turtles were caught in the Hawaii-based longline fishery (McCracken1).
Historically, the Hawaii longline fishery has set longlines considerably shallower than 100 m to target sword fish (Xiphias gladius) or substantially deeper than 100 m to target bigeye tuna. Incidental hookings of loggerhead turtles have been reported in the Hawaii longline fishery observer data, which cover about 5% of the total annual effort. Analyses of these data found that loggerhead turtles were caught only when gear was set shallow enough to target swordfish, primarily in the northern portion of the fishing ground. No loggerhead sea turtles were caught when longline gear was set deep to target bigeye tuna, primarily in the southern portion of the fishing ground. These analyses sug gest that a ban of shallow sets in the fishery since 1 April 2001 may reduce future incidental catches of loggerhead sea turtles. However, analyses based only on observer data suffer from the limited observer coverage and the de pendence between depth of setting and area fished. For example, swordfish are targeted at night in the north, whereas tuna are targeted during the day in the south. To better understand the depths inhabited by sea turtles, we used div ing depth distributions collected from satellite-linked dive recorders attached to two loggerhead and two olive ridley sea turtles caught and released in the Hawaii-based longline fishery. Al though other studies on the dive depths of olive ridley and loggerhead sea tur tles have been conducted in the Pacific, these have been conducted with sea turtles in coastal areas rather than in the oceanic central Pacific (Sakamoto et al., 1993; Beavers and Cassano, 1996).