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Many Dry Tortugas Loggerheads Actually Bahamas Residents

16 / 04 / 2015, USGC

Summary: Many loggerhead sea turtles that nest in Dry Tortugas National Park head to rich feeding sites in the Bahamas after nesting, a discovery that may help those working to protect this threatened species.

Many loggerhead sea turtles that nest in Dry Tortugas National Park head to rich feeding sites in the Bahamas after nesting, a discovery that may help those working to protect this threatened species.  Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey used satellites to track the population of loggerheads that nest in the Dry Tortugas – the smallest subpopulation of loggerheads in the northwest Atlantic – and found the turtles actually spend a considerable portion of their lives in the Bahamas, returning to the Dry Tortugas to nest every two-to-five years. They then spend three-to-four months nesting in the Dry Tortugas before returning to the Bahamas. This new information will help resource managers better identify areas to target for conservation efforts. “Collaborative conservation efforts focused on protecting important loggerhead residence and foraging areas between the United States and Bahamas could offer significant protection for the Dry Tortugas loggerheads,” said USGS Research Ecologist Kristen Hart, lead author of the study. “Two other subpopulations of loggerheads that nest in Northern and Peninsular Florida and also travel to residence areas in the Bahamas would benefit from this protection as well.” The current estimate of the subpopulation of loggerheads that nest in the Dry Tortugas hovers between 258–496 females.

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