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Article 7

New data on the occurrence of leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea in the eastern Adriatic Sea

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1 Department of Zoology, Croatian Natural History Museum, Demetrova 1, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia
2 Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation, Kaštel 24, HR-51551 Veli Lošinj, Croatia
3 Marine Biology Station, National Institute of Biology, Fornače 41, SI-6330 Piran, Slovenia
4 Laboratory of Ecology and Aquaculture, Institute of Marine and Coastal Research, University of Dubrovnik, Damjana Jude 12, HR-20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia
5 Aquarium Piran, Kidričevo nadbrežje 4, SI-3600 Piran, Slovenia
6 Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Ivana Meštrovića 63, HR-21000 Split, Croatia
7 Developmental – Research Center for Mariculture, University of Dubrovnik, HR-20230 Ston, Croatia
* Corresponding author: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 

Abstract . – We review the occurrence of leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) in the eastern Adriatic Sea based upon museum collections and published literature, and present six new records. Eight out of 13 records (61.5 %) derived from fishery bycatch, with gillnets being a dominant threat to leatherbacks in the region. Findings were concentrated between July and September, with a peak (83.3 %) in the summer. In total, 30 leatherback records exist for the entire Adriatic Sea. The specimens for which data on the size (carapace length, CL) were available were all large immatures and adults (CL > 120 cm). Most turtles (70.4 %) were found in the summer, in the oceanic zone of the southern Adriatic (63.3 %). The number of records in this sub-basin represents 4.5 % of the recorded specimens in the entire Mediterranean. Comparing that percentage to the extent of the area relative to the Mediterranean, the occurrence of the leatherback recorded in the southern Adriatic is up to 1.5 fold higher to that of the entire Mediterranean Sea. That suggests possible relevance of the southern Adriatic Sea as a summer foraging habitat for leatherbacks within the Mediterranean. Bycatch estimates for the Mediterranean and critically endangered status of the species, coupled with the lack of data on the natal origin of the populations emphasize the need for systematic monitoring and data collection in the entire region.

You are here: Volume 58 (2008) Issues 3 / 4 Article 7
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