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Residency, home range and tidal habitat use of Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Port Curtis, Australia

Authors
  • Pillans, Richard D.1
  • Fry, Gary C.1
  • Haywood, Michael D. E.1
  • Rochester, Wayne1
  • Limpus, Colin J.2
  • Patterson, Toby3
  • Babcock, Russel C.1
  • 1 CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, St Lucia, Brisbane, 4067, Australia , St Lucia, Brisbane (Australia)
  • 2 Department of Environment and Science, Dutton Park, 4152, Australia , Dutton Park (Australia)
  • 3 CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, 7004, Australia , Hobart (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Marine Biology
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
May 17, 2021
Volume
168
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00227-021-03898-9
Source
Springer Nature
License
Yellow

Abstract

To understand habitat requirements of green turtles in an important foraging area subject to both anthropogenic and natural perturbations, we examined residency, home range and habitat use of juvenile, sub-adult and adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Port Curtis, Australia, using passive acoustic telemetry. Acoustic tags were attached to turtles at Pelican Banks (n = 33) and Wiggins Island (n = 16). Between May 2013 and September 2014, tagged turtles were detected > 1.3 million times by 46 acoustic receivers. Data demonstrated variability in residence index and home range size between Pelican Banks and Wiggins Island that was largely attributed to larger body size at Pelican Banks and habitat differences. Tide had a significant influence of movement and habitat use. At Pelican Banks turtles moved into intertidal seagrass beds at high tide and retreated to the channel at low tide. At Wiggins Island, high tide 50% KUD area was more than double low tide area and turtles moved into the mangroves at high tide and retreated to channels at low tide. Diet reflected availability of food resources; seagrass dominated diet at Pelican Banks whereas epiphytic red algae dominated diet at Wiggins Island. There was no evidence of a diurnal shift in home range or habitat use. The use of intertidal areas by both turtles and small recreational craft during high tide at Pelican Banks resulted in increased risk of vessel strike. Unusually short residency at Pelican Banks suggested that animals had either relocated to another foraging area or a combination of recent flooding, port development and reduced seagrass coverage during the period of monitoring resulted in higher emigration rates than previously demonstrated for this species. Acoustic telemetry is a valuable tool for obtaining fine-scale, long- term data on movement and residency of green turtles.

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