Long-term monitoring of leatherback turtle diving behaviour during oceanic movements

TitleLong-term monitoring of leatherback turtle diving behaviour during oceanic movements
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
Refereed DesignationRefereed
AuthorsSale, A., Luschi P., Mencacci R., Lambardi P., Hughs G., Hays G., Benvenuti S., & Papi F.
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Pagination197 - 210
Date Published01/2006

The diving behaviour of four leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) was recorded for periods of 0.5–8.1 months during their postnesting movements in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, when they covered 1569–18,994 km. Dive data were obtained using satellite-linked transmitters which also provided information on the dive depths and profiles of the turtles. Turtles mainly dove to depths < 200 m, with maximum dive durations under 30–40 min and exhibited diel variations in their diving activity for most part of the routes, with dives being usually longer at night. Diurnal dives were in general quite short, but cases of very deep (> 900 m) and prolonged (> 70 min) dives were however recorded only during daytime. The three turtles that were tracked for the longest time showed a marked change in behaviour during the tracking, decreasing their dive durations and ceasing to dive deeply. Moreover, diel variations disappeared, with nocturnal dives becoming short and numerous. This change in turtle diving activity appeared to be related to water temperature, suggesting an influence of seasonal prey availability on their diving behaviour. The turtle diving activity was independent on the shape of their routes, with no changes between linear movements in the core of main currents or looping segments in presence of oceanic eddies.

Short TitleJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology