Capstone Title

Seasonal and Annual Variations in Sizes of Nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) in Broward County, Florida as Estimated by Crawl Track Width

Defense Date

10-2001

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Curtis Burney

Second Advisor

Edward Keith

Abstract

In Broward County, Florida, the number of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests has shown an increasing trend since 1981 . A means of assessing population structure to determine if this increase may be a result of younger first-time nesting turtles would be a valuable management tool. The significant direct correlation between crawl width and clutch size found in this study, coupled with the established direct relation of carapace length and clutch size suggest that crawl track widths may be an indicator of the turtle body sizes, and therefore, the relative age of the nesting sea turtles.

The raw data from 10 years of nesting loggerhead sea turtles, provided by the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, was analyzed by linear regression analysis and percent frequency using the turtle's crawl track widths, clutch sizes and date each nest was deposited. The data were analyzed and compared for each nesting season and on an annual basis (1991-2000), to identify the trends in the data for nesting loggerhead sea turtles. The results of this study suggest that younger first-time nesting females may be returning to Broward County Beaches.

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