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Institute for Coastal and Marine Research

Factors affecting survivorship of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles of South Africa

Student: Anje De Wet
Supervisors: Dr Ronel Nel
Collaborating Institutions: Nelson Mandela University Coastal and Marine Research Unit
Email contact: Ronel Nel


Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles as well as their eggs and hatchlings have been protected on their nesting beach in South Africa since 1963. Both nesting populations were expected to show similar trends in recovery following the application of identical protection and conservation measures. The loggerhead nesting population has responded favourably to these protection efforts. In contrast, the leatherback nesting population showed an initial increase but is currently stable. The reason for this difference in response is thought to be due to differential offshore mortality of these two species. This prompted an investigation into the different sources of sea turtle mortality in the South Western Indian Ocean (SWIO). Specific aims were to identify and quantify sources of loggerhead and leatherback mortality on nesting beaches as well as in the oceans.

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