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Sea Turtles of the Wider Caribbean Region (fact sheets for six species)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA03599021/00001
 Material Information
Title: Sea Turtles of the Wider Caribbean Region (fact sheets for six species)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: WIDECAST
Publisher: WIDECAST
Place of Publication: Ballwin, Missouri
Publication Date: 2005
 Record Information
Source Institution: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network
Holding Location: WIDECAST
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
System ID: CA03599021:00001

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Table of Contents
    Leatherback turtle
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Green turtle
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Loggerhead turtle
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Hawksbill turtle
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Kemp's Ridley turtle
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Olive Ridley turtle
        Page 11
        Page 12
Full Text






Leatherback Turtle
Dermochelys coriacea


General Description

The leatherback turtle, also known as the leathery
turtle or trunkback, is the largest and most distinctive
of the sea turtles.

It is the only sea turtle which lacks a
hard, bony carapace (top shell).
scutes and claws. Instead.
the leatherback has
a rubbery "shell"
which is strongly
tapered and char- .
acterized by
seven prominent
ridges. The back
head and flippers
are often marked by
irregular blotches of
white or pale blue. The
plastron (bottom shell) ranges
from white to grey/black. The "'%
dark upper and lighter lower surfaces ---.
in combination with the mottled coloration is
effective camouflage for this open-ocean inhabitant.
The leatherback has a deeply notched upper jaw.

While hatchlings are about 60-65 mm (2.4-2.6 in) in
carapace length, adult females grow to 130-165cm (55-
71 in) and weigh 260-500 kg (573-1102 Ib); males can
tip the scales at 916 kg (2015 Ib)!


Nesting Distribution and Behavior

Leatherbacks are the most migratory of the sea
turtles, are globally distributed, feed in temperate waters,
and nest on tropical shores. The major Caribbean nesting
beaches are in Trinidad and French Guiana. Other
important sites are in Costa Rica, the Dominican
"- Republic, Puerto Rico, Suriname, the
U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

S The main Caribbean
nesting season begins
in March and con-
tinues to July.
Leatherbacks
like beaches
with deep, un-
S obstructed access
/ and avoid abrasive rock
, or coral. The nesting
-,, track width is 180-230 cm (82-
S -'" 92 in). Leatherbacks nest every
.---2-5 years or more, laying an average of
5-7 clutches per nesting season at 9-10 day
intervals. Typically between 70-90 fertile (yolked) eggs
are laid, as well as a variable number of smaller, infertile
(yolkless) eggs. After an approximately 9 weeks, the
hatchlings emerge and crawl to the sea. Virtually nothing
is known of the post-hatchling and juvenile life stages--
hatchlings disappear, notto be seen again until adulthood!


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Diet


Leatherbacks forage in temperate waters, and even
venture into subarctic latitudes. The mouth and throat are
linedwithbackward-facingspinesthathelpkeeptheirprimary
food, jellyfish and other soft-bodied invertebrates, from
escaping. Highlyvenomousjellyfish,includingthePortugese
Man-O-War, are considered a delicacy! Leatherbacks
feed both at the surface and at great depths in the sea.


Why Are They Threatened?

Leatherbacks are killed (mostly illegally) for meat,
eggs, and the oil in their "shells" which, according to
traditional lore, has medicinal value. Adult leatherbacks
migrate thousands of miles every year, and can dive to
depths exceeding 1000 m (3250 ft). They are vulnerable
to incidental catch on long lines, in shrimp trawls, and
in coastal gillnets throughout their range. Ingestion of
marine debris such as plastic bags, styrofoam chunks
and tar balls can be fatal. Modification or destruction
of sandy beaches throughout the Caribbean region
has diminished nesting habitat. Beach sand mining,
commercial development and coastal lighting have
also contributed to declining leatherback populations.






E WIDECAST
Wider Carib'cain Sea Turtfe Conservation Network


What Can You Do To Help? Please:

~rDo not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
j-iTurn off, shield, or redirect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
i-Obey all regulations regarding the protection of
coral reefs, seagrass, and natural beach vegetation.
*Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
can be crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
c-Support local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles and
their habitats.

WIDECAST

With Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for sus-
tainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, empha-
sizing information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.










Green Turtle
Chelonia m)ydas


General Description


The green turtle, or green-back, has an oval, bony
carapace (top shell) covered with smooth, non-overlapping
scutes. Like the hawksbill, the green turtle has four pairs
of lateral scutes. The carapace of the adult varies from
light to dark greenish brown in color with patterns
of radiating wavy or mottled markings, .,.---~
while the plastron (bottom shell) is -
white to yellowish in color.


From an average
hatchling length of
49 mm (2 in), adults
are generally 95-
120 cm (36-40 in) in
carapace length and
weigh up to 230 kg (500 Ib)!


Green turtles are herbivorous .
and the biting edge of the lowerjaw ",
is serrated. Between the eyes there is '
one pair of enlarged prefrontal scales, a "'
feature unique to green turtles. Each front and
back flipper has a single claw. Hatchlings are "counter-
shaded" (black above, white below) to camouflage
them in the open sea during their earliest years.


Nesting Distribution and Behavior

Small numbers of green turtles nest on the majority of
islands and mainland territories of the Wider Caribbean.
Major nesting colonies are found at Tortuguero
(Costa Rica) and Aves Island (Venezuela). The peak
Caribbean breeding season occurs
--. between July and September.

S The nest site is
S characterized by a
deep body pit, well
above the high
water mark. Sym-
metrical tracks in
the sand 100-130
Scmacross(40-52in)
S indicate that a turtle
'' has come ashore
-/ to deposit her eggs.

A female lays between
2-6 clutches per breeding
season and typically deposits 110-115
golf ball-sized eggs per clutch. The incubation
period is approximately 8-9 weeks. After breeding,
2-3 years will elapse before a female breeds again.


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Diet

Adult green turtles are herbivores and eat seagrasses,
especially "turtle grass" and algae. Green turtles forage in
shallow, near-shore waters throughout the Caribbean Sea.
The turtles often form grazing scars, which they repeatedly
re-graze to take advantage of new, tender growth.


Why Are They Threatened?

Before the arrival of Columbus, coastal dwelling
communities consumed green turtle meat and eggs
as a source of protein. As European colonies were
established, settlers exploited the large populations of
green turtles intensively. By the early 1800's, the largest
nesting population in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands,
had been decimated. Several parts of the green turtle
have commercial value: meat and calipee are used for
soup; bone for fertilizer; oil for cosmetics; and eggs for
food and traditional aphrodisiacs. The taking of turtles
and eggs remains a serious problem throughout the
Caribbean Region.

Green turtles also face a life-threatening disease in
which growths called fibropapillomas can occur on several
regions of their body, interfering with theirabilityto see, feed,
breathe, swim, etc. Afflicted turtles should never be eaten.





E WIDECAST
Wider CaribIbean Sea Turtfe Conservation Network


What Can You DoTo Help? Please:

?r Do not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
.p Turn off, shield, or redirect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
p-Obey all regulations regarding the protection of
coral reefs, seagrass, and natural beach vegetation.
;-Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
can be crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
- Support local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles and
their habitats.

WIDECAST

With Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for sus-
tainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, empha-
sizing information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.










Loggerhead Turtle
Caretta caretta


General Description

The loggerhead turtle has a bony, slightly tapered,
reddish-brown carapace (top shell) covered with non-
overlapping scutes. The carapace has five pairs of
lateral scutes and, in juveniles, the carapace can show
bumpy ridges along its length. The carapace is often
encrusted by a heavy growth of invertebrate fauna,
such as barnacles. The plastron (bottom
shell) is cream-yellow in color.


The triangular shaped k
head is disproportionately
large for the body size
and may grow to 25 cm
(10 in) in width in adults.
Each front and back
flipper has two claws.

While hatchlings
typically range from
44-48 mm (1.7-1.8 in)
in carapace length, adults
may grow to 120 cm (47 in)
in carapace length and 200 kg (440
Ib) in weight. Hatchlings are uniform in color,


I.
1% ~


usually above and below red-brown or grey-black.

Research on loggerheads provided the first
glimpses into important aspects of sea turtle biology-
-such as temperature dependent sex determination.


Nesting Distribution and Behavior


Loggerheads prefer to nest on sub-tropical and
temperate beaches. The largest concentration of nesting
females in the world is found on the southeastern Atlantic
coast of the USA. Lower density nesting is documented
on beaches along the Gulf and Caribbean coasts of
Mexico, Belize and the Atlantic coast of South America.


The nesting season is from May
to August in the Wider Caribbean
\ region. Loggerheads prefer
Sto nest on continental
beaches, and mating is
believed to occur off
of nesting beaches.
A typical nesting
beach is backed by
/ a low vegetated dune.
Nesting loggerheads
S create asymmetrical
tracks measuring 90-
100 cm (35-39 in) across.


-- Females typically nest every 2-
3 years and nest several times in a season
at 13-15 day intervals. The female excavates a nesting
cavity 43-80 cm (17-31 in) deep where she deposits
about 100-120 golf ball-sized eggs. The nests are
dug well above the high tide line to prevent inundation
by seawater over the 7-11 week incubation period.


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---..7_














Diet

Adult loggerheads are benthic (seabed) feeders on the
continental shelf. A large head and powerful jaws are well
suited to their omnivorous diet. They eat a variety of hard-
shelled mollusks (such as conch andwhelk)and crustaceans
(suchascrabs), and alsofeed onfish,jellyfish,and seaweeds.

Why They AreThreatened?

In the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern Atlantic coast
of the USA, the major cause of death for loggerheads
is their incidental capture and subsequent drowning in
shrimp trawls. Fitting shrimp trawls with Turtle Excluder
Devices (TEDs) offers an escape route for turtles trapped
in trawl nets, and these devices are required by law in the
U.S. and several Caribbean countries and Latin America.

Entanglement and incidental capture in longlines is
also an important source of mortality in the Caribbean
Sea and beyond. In addition, Loggerheads cannot easily
distinguish between food and non-food items (such as
plastic) and they consume marine debris, which can be fatal.

Finally, coastal development, with associated
lighting and vehicular use, threatens nesting beaches.
Lights confuse hatchlings so that they are unable
to find the sea and vehicles crush eggs and newly
hatched turtles waiting to emerge from the sand.




E WIDECAST
Wider Caribbean Sea Tuirtr Conscr'artion Ncirwor


What Can You Do To Help? Please:

SFDo not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
- Turn off, shield, or redirect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
"-Obey all regulations regarding the protection of
coral reefs, seagrass, and natural beach vegetation.
,-Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
are crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
- Support local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles
and their habitats.

WIDECAST

With Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for
sustainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, emphasizing
information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.










Hawksbill Turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata


General Description

The hawksbill turtle is easily identified by its strikingly
beautiful carapace (top shell) which is a mosaic of brown,
gold, orange and red speckled scutes that overlap each
other like shingles on a roof. The oval
carapace is posteriorly serrated.
There are two pairs of scales. "
called prefrontal scales.
between the eyes
and two claws on
each front flipper. ,.


Adult hawksbills
grow to 70-95 cm
(27.5-37.5 in) and .
weigh 60-80 kg (132-
176 Ib). Hatchlings ae
40-45 mm (1.6-1.8 in) \
in carapace length, and \
are uniform in color, usually
grey or brown, above and below.


= =


Nesting Distribution and Behavior


Hawksbills nest in generally low densities
throughout the Wider Caribbean. The largest
known nesting populations are found in Antigua
& Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Mexico (Yucatan
peninsula), Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, with


important nesting areas in Colombia, the Dominican
Republic, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Hawksbills nest at night, often on beaches flanked
by coral reefs and rocks, and mainly between June and
October. Females breed every 2-3 years
"- or more, and typically nest 4-5 times
'" at 14-15 day intervals. A clutch
"\ generally consists of about 150
,\ golf ball-sized, white eggs.

The female
hawksbill carefully
S selects her nesting
site well above the
high water mark
Where the eggs
/ t, will remain dry for
,' /the next 8-9 weeks
until they hatch. The
assymetrical track she
-' leaves behind is 70-85 cm
across. Hawksbills like to nest amongst
vegetation, perhaps because their nests are quite shallow
(< 10 cm to top layer of eggs), and vegetation
helps to shade the buried eggs from the scorching
sun. Unfortunately, shallow nests are also more
vulnerable to predators. Hatchlings emerge at night
and use natural light to find their way to the sea.


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Diet


As the name suggests, the hawksbill has a narrow
pointed head and a "beak" which is used to pry prey from
reef crevices and take clean bites out of marine sponges.
They specialize on sponges in the Caribbean Sea,
and to a much lesser degree will also eat hydrozoans,
crabs, clams, gastropods, tunicates, and plants.


Why Are They Threatened?

The hawksbill turtle is amongst the most endangered
of the six species of sea turtle found in the Wider Caribbean.
The beauty of this turtle's shell (also called tortoiseshell,
carey or bekko), and its use in the manufacture of hair
combs, jewelry and other ornaments, is the main reason
for the heavy exploitation of this species over the years.
For example, Japanese Customs data show that shells
from more than a quarter-million hawksbills were imported
from the Caribbean from 1971-1989. Japan ended this
trade in 1993. Hawksbill eggs and meat are eaten as
delicacies in many Caribbean territories. Destruction of
coral reefs (foraging habitats) through pollution, dynamite
blasting and careless diving and anchoring, as well as
degradation of sandy beaches (nesting habitats) due to
increased coastal development, have further contributed
to the decline of hawksbill populations in the Caribbean.





E WIDECAST
Wider CaribIbean Sea Turtfe Conservation Network


What Can You Do To Help? Please:

FDo not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
,y Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
py-Turn off, shield, or redreect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
i-Obey all regulations regarding the protection of
coral reefs, seagrass, and natural beach vegetation.
*Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
can be crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
,- Support local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles and
their habitats.

WIDECAST

With Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for sus-
tainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, empha-
sizing information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.

















Nesting Distribution and Behavior


umbering no more than 6000 adult females (but
rising!), the Kemp's ridley turtle is the most endangered
sea turtle in the world. It is a small sea turtle, ranging from
58-76 cm (23-30 in) in carapace (top
shell) length and from 27-40 kg (60-
90 Ib) in weight. Kemp's ridleys
have a bony carapace
covered with non- -
overlapping scutes,
including five pairs
of lateral scutes. : ,--- "


The carapace is
almost round in shape, ,
and dark grey in color.
The plastron (bottom
shell) is yellowish in color
and has small pores located
in the inframarginal scutes
("bridge scutes" that connect
the carapace to the plastron). The
exact function of these pores is unknown.


Between the eyes are a variable number of prefrontal
scales. They havetwoclawson eachflipper, although some
adults loose the secondary claw on their front flippers.
Hatchlings are uniformly grayish black in color, and
typical carapace length is 42-48 mm (1.7-1.9 in).


he existence and whereabouts of Kemp's ridley
nesting beaches remained a mystery to the scientific
community until 1947, when film footage became available
of an estimated 40,000 females emerging to nest on an
isolated beach at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico!
As the breeding season
approaches, adults gather off
the nesting beach to mate.
Unlike other sea turtles,
-Kemp's ridleys are

typically day-time
nesters. The
nesting crawl is
asymmetrical,

80 cm (29-32 in)
across. Females nest
r an- nually and typically
nest 2-3 times per season,
usuallydepositingover100eggs
per nest. Incubation lasts 7-8 weeks.


Diet


emp's ridleys are carnivorous. Crabs and shrimps
are the main food items but jellyfish, sea urchins,
star fish, clams, mussels and fish are also eaten.


General Description















Why Are They Threatened?


he primary nesting beach is at Rancho Nuevo,
Mexico, where females and their eggs are now protected.
Scientists once believed the species to be confined to the
Gulf of Mexico, but their range is now known to extend
north along the US eastern seaboard. Incidental capture
and drowning in shrimp trawls is a major cause of mortality.
The installation and proper use of Turtle Excluder Devices
(TEDs) in all shrimp trawling boats fishing in areas where
Kemp'sridleysarefoundcontinuesto becriticaltothesurvival
of this species. Other causes of mortality are ingestion of
pollutants and marine debris (oil, discarded fishing lines,
plastics), and wounds sustained in boat collisions and
dredging operations. Conservation efforts have resulted in
a small population recolonizing Texas shores, with more
than 60 U.S. nestings confirmed between 1996 and 2002!


Successful Conservation Effort

rising numbers of nesting Kemp's ridleys, including
a small population beginning to establish itself on beaches
in Texas (USA), is a tribute to nearly four decades of
intensive bilateral conservation by the USA and Mexico.
Full protection at the nesting beach and continued
emphasis on the use of TEDs in offshore waters is key
to the survival of this ancient species. Still classified as
Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union
(IUCN), this is one turtle species whose future looks bright!



W WIDECAST
Wit{ier Caribbean Sea Tuirt' Conservation N'twori


What Can You Do To Help? Please:

F Do not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
* Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
.-Turn off, shield, or redirect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
.-Obey all regulations regarding the protection of
coral reefs, seagrass, and natural beach vegetation.
.f-Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
can be crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
,- Support local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles and
their habitats.

WIDECAST

ith Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for sus-
tainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, empha-
sizing information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.










Olive Ridley Turtle
Lepidochelys olivacea


General Description

The olive ridley sea turtle, one of the smallest
of the sea turtles, may have been named for the olive
green color of its carapace (top shell). Olive ridleys can
grow to 64-72 cm (25.6-28.8 in) in carapace length
and weigh up to 45 kg (100 Ib). The
carapace is nearly circular, with 6-9 -
pairs of lateral scutes. The plastron
(bottom shell) is yellowish-white
in color, and has small
pores around the edges.

The olive ridley has
a small, narrow head
and a finely serrated
horny beak. Between
the eyes there are \
a variable number of
prefrontal scales. There
are two claws on each '
flipper. Hatchlings are uniformly
grayish black in color. Ridleys ,.- --
begin reproducing at 12-15 years of age.

The only way to positively identify an adult female is
to observe her laying eggs. Adult male identification is
based on the presence of a long, prehensile tail. Juveniles
cannot be sexed based on physical characteristics.


Nesting Distribution and Behavior

In many parts of the world, the olive ridley
comes to shore to nest in synchronized emergences
of large numbers of turtles, an event known as
an arribada. On a global scale, the olive ridley is the
world's most abundant sea turtle. However,
S- Atlantic populations are severely depleted
and arribadas are no longer
seen in our region. In the
.' WWider Caribbean, remnant
.nesting colonies occur
in Suriname, French
Guiana and Brazil.

I The nesting
season is from April
i to August, peaking in
.., May-July in the Guianas.
Females prefer gently
S inclining beaches and typically
f emerge from the sea at night to
-' lay their eggs in the warm sand. The
female's nesting track is asymmetrical and
about 70-80 cm (29-32 in) in width. Nesting appears
to be affected by weather conditions and therefore
there is no predictable inter-nesting interval, although
females tend to nest 1-3 times during a breeding
year. Females tend to lay just over 100 eggs per nest;
the incubation period is approximately 8 weeks long.


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Diet

Olive ridleys forage both in shallow coastal waters
and in the open sea, where they have been known to dive
to depths greater than 150 m (500 ft). They are primarily
carnivorous and feed on a variety of food items such
as shrimp, crabs, sea urchins, jellyfish and gastropods
(snails). They are also known to eat algae and seagrasses.


Why Are They Threatened?

The tendency of olive ridleys to form large nesting
aggregations, called arribadas, has made them easy
targets for harvest, and their meat and eggs were once
important resources for people in coastal areas. In
the Wider Caribbean, populations that once may have
numbered in the hundreds of thousands now number
in the hundreds. The incidental capture and drowning
of olive ridleys in shrimp trawls may have contributed
significantly to their decline. Similarly, incidental capture
in gillnets is a serious challenge in the Eastern Pacific,
where numbers declined dramatically due to excessive
egg harvest and many years of large scale commercial
harvest. Nest predation by domestic dogs, opossums,
coyotes and ringtail cats are an added burden on depleted
populations. Finally, marine debris (such as plastic
bags) is easily mistaken for food, and can cause death.




e iWIDECAST
WiAfer Carifbean Sea Turt(e Conservation Network


What Can You Do To Help? Please:

SDo not buy or sell sea turtle products. Remember,
international law prevents the transport of sea-
turtle parts and products across national borders.
a Do not harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Do not
disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nest-
ing turtles, ride turtles, or collect hatchlings.
STurn off, shield, or redirect coastal lighting to prevent
it from shining on nesting beaches. Artificial lighting
can fatally disorient nesting and hatching sea turtles.
rObey all regulations regarding the protection
of coral reefs,seagrass,and natural beachvegetation.
Do not drive your car on the beach; incubating eggs
can be crushed and tire ruts trap crawling hatchlings.
SSupport local and national conservation efforts. Be
familiar with existing legislation, and encourage new
legislation to strengthen protection for sea turtles
and their habitats.

WIDECAST

With Country Coordinators and partner organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an innovative, proactive and inclusive mechanism for sus-
tainable development on a regional scale. By bringing the
best available science to bear on decision-making, empha-
sizing information exchange and training, and encouraging
harmonised practices, the network promotes strong linkages
between science, policy, and public participation in the design
and implementation of sea turtle management programmes.




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