Peruvian coastal waters may provide suitable habitat that may help the recovery of endangered South Pacific green turtles, according to a study published November 19, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ximena Velez-Zuazo from University of Puerto Rico and colleagues.
Green turtles inhabit tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world. The authors of this study worked to identify suitable habitat for the endangered species by measuring two populations off the Peruvian coast from 2010 to 2013 in potentially important feeding grounds.
The researchers found that the turtle population had fast-growing members and the composition was similar to their expectations for each location, indicating healthy populations at both sites. At the northern warm, less productive ecotone El Ñuro, the population was composed of mostly sub-adults. At the cold, nutrient rich Paracas off the southern coast, the population was composed primarily of juveniles and no adults. According to the authors, the populations recorded at both sites indicate that nutrient rich conditions found in Peruvian coastal waters might contribute to the recovery of East Pacific green turtles. However, both populations are still threatened by pollution, bycatch, and illegal catch, and the researchers suggest conservation measures may be necessary to maintain current populations.
Shaleyla Kelez and Javier Quiñones, co-authors in this collaborative study, agreed on the value long-term marc-recapture studies have to better understand the importance of these areas and the need for its adequate protection.
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Citation: Velez-Zuazo X, Quinones J, Pacheco AS, Klinge L, Paredes E, et al. (2014) Fast Growing, Healthy and Resident Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas)at Two Neritic Sites in the Central and Northern Coast of Peru: Implications for Conservation. PLoS ONE 9(11): e113068. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113068
Funding: Green turtle research at El Nuro was supported with funds from PADI Fundation, Idea Wild, Pro Natura Japan, Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Patagonia Footwear through 1% for the Planet, OAK Foundation through Duke Minigrants and Umanotera Foundation through Krilca Gifts. The Instituto del Mardel Peru provided funds for sea turtle research at Paracas. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.