Capstone Title

Sea Turtle Conservation: Reviewing the Efficacy of Land- and Sea-based Management Strategies for Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Sea Turtles

Defense Date

4-20-2016

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Derek Burkholder

Second Advisor

William Harford

Third Advisor

Nick Funicelli

Abstract

As cosmopolitan species, loggerhead and leatherback turtles are confronted with a multitude of threats as they progress through their respective life stages. These range from depredation and poaching of eggs, hatchlings, and females on nesting beaches, to incidental hooking in pelagic longline fisheries and capture in trawl fisheries. Some threats are species specific on regional scales, though most impact both species. To confront these threats, various conservation strategies have been developed and implemented, including monitoring and caging of nests and changes to hook shape and trawl design. Here, current conservation methods are presented and discussed on a global scale for both species. Population modeling was employed to elucidate the impacts these strategies are having for loggerhead turtles in the North Atlantic. Unfortunately, even with the myriad of strategies employed throughout the world, most populations of these species are still declining. This arises due to a poor understanding of several of the fundamental elements of population dynamics for each species, deficient tracking of fisheries impacts, and a lack of unified conservation plans to address population declines on regional and global scales.

ORCID ID

orcid.org/0000-0001-6802-9924

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