Oceanic drivers of juvenile sea turtle strandings in the UK.

Kettemer, L. E., Biastoch, Arne , Wagner, Patrick , Coombs, E. J., Penrose, R. and Scott, Rebecca (2022) Oceanic drivers of juvenile sea turtle strandings in the UK. Open Access Endangered Species Research, 48 . pp. 15-19. DOI 10.3354/esr01184.

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Juvenile sea turtles can disperse thousands of kilometers from nesting beaches to oceanic development habitats, aided by ocean currents. In the North Atlantic, turtles dispersing from American beaches risk being advected out of warm nursery grounds in the North Atlantic Gyre into lethally cold Northern European waters (e.g. around the United Kingdom). We used an ocean model simulation to compare simulated numbers of turtles that were advected to cold waters around the UK with observed numbers of turtles reported in the same area over ~5 decades. Rates of virtual turtles predicted to encounter lethal temperatures (≤10 and 15°C, mean 19% ± 2.7) and reach the UK were consistently low (median 0.83%, lower quartile 0.67%, upper quartile 1.02%), whereas there was high inter-annual variability in the numbers of dead or critically ill turtles reported in the UK. Generalized additive models suggest inter-annual variability in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index to be a good indicator of annual numbers of turtle strandings reported in the UK. We demonstrate that NAO variability drives variability in the dispersion scenarios of juvenile turtles from key nesting regions into the North Atlantic. Coastal effects, such as the number of storms and mean sea surface temperatures in the UK were significant but weak predictors, with a weak effect on turtle strandings. Further understanding how changing environmental conditions such as NAO variability and storms affect the fate of juvenile turtles is vital for understanding the distribution and population dynamics of sea turtles.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Sea turtle; Stranding; North Atlantic Oscillation; NAO; Dispersal; Ocean model; Storms effects
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Marine Evolutionary Ecology
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-OD Ocean Dynamics
Main POF Topic: PT6: Marine Life
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: Inter Research
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2022 09:14
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2023 09:39
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/55455

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