Capstone Title

Lunar Effects on Sea Turtle Nesting Periodicities in Broward County, Florida

Defense Date

12-2013

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Curtis Burney

Second Advisor

Richard E. Spieler

Third Advisor

Lou Fisher

Abstract

Broward County, Florida’s sea turtles nest annually from March through September. When a female is attempting to select a nest site she will typically emerge from the ocean at night and crawl up the beach to locate a suitable area to commence nesting. Throughout theworld ithas been a commonly touted belief that sea turtles increase nesting attempts in correlation to lunar and tidal cycles. This capstone review paper analyzed eleven loggerhead sea turtle seasons (2000-2010) to identify any such correlations between nesting cycles and lunar cycles for Broward County’s sea turtles. Four patterns became evident of lunar correlation and loggerhead sea turtle nesting. Three years showed no significant relationship between nesting andlunar cycle. Threeseasondemonstrated higher nesting near the quarter moons while two other years showed higher nesting at the full and new moons. Finally, three remaining seasons resulted in mixed patterns of nesting and moon phase. This research compared Broward County sea turtles with those from other nesting areas for similarities and differences. These findings could contribute to improved conservation strategies.

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