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Wild versus head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata: post-release behavior and feeding adaptions

By J Okuyama, T Shimizu, O Abe, K Yoseda and N Arai

Abstract

To ensure the success of reintroduction programs, it is important to monitor the post-release behavior and survival of released animals. In this study, the post-release movement and behavior of 5 wild and 5 head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata were monitored using ultrasonic telemetry. Their dispersal directions and recaptures may indicate that wild turtles perform homing migrations. However, the head-started turtles showed non-uniform patterns in dispersal movements. Four head-started turtles moved out of the monitoring area in various directions, whereas one turtle stayed within the monitoring area for approx. 10 mo. These results might indicate that head-started turtles wander aimlessly in their new surroundings. Signal reception patterns indicated that wild turtles were active in the daytime and rested under the coral at night. Although the head-started turtles also rest at night, their resting places did not seem to be sheltered from hazardous sea conditions or adequate for efficient resting. Therefore, head-started hawksbill turtles appear to need pre-release training such as exposure to structures or ledges in the rearing tank so they can utilize similar structures in the wild for shelter during rest periods and maximize their dive duration by employing these as a roof to counteract the positive buoyant effect of inhaled air. Prey analysis of a head-started turtle captured incidentally demonstrates that these turtles can make feeding adaptations to adjust to the natural environment. These findings provide constructive information for the implementation and improvement of head-start programs

Topics: Conservation, Eretmochelys imbricata, Feeding adaptation, Head-starting, Reintroduction, Ultrasonic telemetry
Publisher: 'Inter-Research Science Center'
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.3354/esr00250
OAI identifier: oai:repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp:2433/128854
Journal:

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