Effects of relocation and environmental factors on loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests on Cape Island

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Bimbi, Melissa Kennedy
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Cape Island is the highest-density nesting beach of the northern nesting assemblage of the Northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). In order to determine the effect of nest relocation, in situ, hatchery and individually relocated nests were monitored throughout the peak of the 2007 nesting season and the entire 2008 nesting season. MicroDAQTM LogTag temperature data loggers (0.1C error) were placed in the approximate center of nests during the entire incubation duration. Environmental factors such as sand characteristics, vegetation, inundation, and elevation were also examined. Hatchery nests incubated at cooler temperatures than in situ nests and had longer incubation durations. Individually relocated nests incubated at similar temperatures as in situ nests and had similar incubation durations. Inundation was significantly higher in in situ nests, and elevation was significantly lower in inundated nests. Hatch and emergence success were similar between all nest types. This research suggests that nest relocation, when used correctly, remains an important management tool for sea turtle conservation and the need for it may increase with rising sea levels.
Loggerhead turtle -- South Carolina; Sea turtles -- nests; Wildlife relocation -- South Carolina