Biology and conservation of sea turtles in Baja California, Mexico
AuthorNichols, Wallace J.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture.
AdvisorSchwalbe, Cecil R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI studied the in-water anthropogenic impacts on sea turtles, origins of sea turtles on foraging and developmental areas, their migration routes, and described regionally appropriate conservation needs. Sea turtles inhabiting Baja California waters originate on distant beaches in Japan, Hawaii, and southern Mexico. Results from genetic analyses, flipper tagging and satellite telemetry indicate loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) feeding along Baja California's coast are born in Japan and make a transpacific developmental migration of more than 20,000 km, encompassing the entire North Pacific Ocean and that East Pacific green turtles (Chelonia mydas) originate on and return to rookeries in Michoacan, and the Islas Revillagigedo, Mexico. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), once the target of a lucrative fishery for their shell, are now extremely scarce and only juveniles were encountered. The region's importance to the biology of sea turtles, regionally and Pacific-wide, warrants urgent conservation action. While protected legally, sea turtles are subject to furtive hunting and incidental catch. Coastal development, pollution, and boat collision are secondary threats. Annual consumption of sea turtles in the region is estimated at between 7,800 and 30,000 animals. Sea turtles are eaten regularly in most coastal communities and turtles are considered an irreplaceable traditional food. The decline of sea turtles in these waters has cost us both ecologically and culturally. Sea turtle recovery in Baja California, as all conservation activities, will be a matter of cultural and social evolution. For recovery to occur, strong, community-based incentives and educational programs are needed. In the near term, increased enforcement efforts, monitoring of mortality, and establishment of sea turtle sanctuaries are among the solutions. Without expansion to include community-specific initiatives such efforts may be futile. A long-term, multi-faceted sea turtle "conservation mosaic" program has been launched, consisting of community-based research on life history and population biology, an international education and public outreach campaign, regional sea turtle conservation areas, a monitoring and stranding network, and several policy initiatives that will permanently protect sea turtles and their habitat.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Renewable Natural Resources