HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis M. Burney

Second Advisor

Edward O. Keith

Third Advisor

Lou Fisher


Carapace lengths and widths of nesting loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) were measured at Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida to determine if plastron and/or track crawl widths were predictive of carapace size. Straight and curved carapace measurements were taken.

Plastron and track crawl width were measured at four points on each crawl: 1) emerging at the tide line; 2) mid-way to the nest; 3) mid-way returning to the surf; and 4) at the tide line returning to the surf. All four measurements were significantly different from each other (P < 0.005) along each crawl. Crawl width was the most variable factor in all comparisons.

Maximum straight carapace length correlated with emergent track crawl width at the tide mark (r = 0.8464, P < 0.001), indicating that track width was predictive of straight carapace length (+/- 3.95 cm standard error of estimate). Clutch size correlated with notch-to-tip straight carapace length (r = 0.6635, P < 0.0005) and with emergent track crawl width measured mid-way to the nest (r = 0.5735, P < 0.005). Carapace and crawl width measurements were predictive of clutch size (+/- 21 eggs and 23 eggs standard error of estimate, respectively).

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