Summer-restricted migration of green turtles Chelonia mydas to a temperate habitat of the northwest Pacific Ocean

T. Fukuoka, T. Narazaki, K. Sato

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The foraging habitats of green turtles Chelonia mydas range from tropical to temperate areas. Previous studies have generally been biased toward tropical and sub-tropical areas; hence, available data do not accurately describe the species' foraging activity in temperate areas. To reveal seasonal patterns of habitat use in temperate areas, we conducted a by-catch survey, a mark-recapture study, and satellite tracking of green turtles along the Sanriku Coast, a temperate zone in the northwest Pacific Ocean. From July through November of 2005 to 2014, 78 green turtles were captured during a period of relatively high water temperatures (16 to 24°C). Straight carapace length (SCL) ranged from 36.8 to 85.6 cm (average: 49.4 ± 11.4 cm; n = 78), indicating that most of the turtles were juveniles. In the mark-recapture study, 14 of 72 tagged turtles were recaptured 5 to 426 d after release, 12 of which were recaptured south of the release point. Based on satellite tracking data, 3 turtles travelled more than 500 km to reach southern habitats, where water temperature was warmer (13 to 25°C) than along the Sanriku Coast (4 to 22°C). Our results revealed that the Sanriku Coast is a seasonally restricted habitat for juvenile green turtles, which migrate to southern habitats in winter, and that turtles in temperate areas migrated longer than those in tropical and sub-tropical areas. This is the first report of seasonal migration of juvenile green turtles to a temperate habitat in the northern Pacific Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEndangered Species Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2015


  • By-catch
  • Mark-recapture
  • Satellite tracking
  • Temperate habitat
  • Juvenile turtles


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