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Records of the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) on the Brazilian coast, 1969–2001

  • Paulo C.R. Barata (a1), Eduardo H.S.M. Lima (a2), Márcio Borges-Martins (a3) (a4), Juarez T. Scalfoni (a5), Claudio Bellini (a6) and Salvatore Siciliano (a7)...

Abstract

Data from several sources and original data are presented regarding sightings, strandings and incidental captures of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) on the Brazilian coast in a 33 year period, from 1969 to 2001. Two of the turtles were small juveniles (curved carapace length=40 cm and approximately 85 cm) and the remaining animals with known carapace size were large juveniles or adults. The origin of leatherbacks observed in Brazil is unknown. Several colonies in South America, including a Brazilian one, in the Caribbean, in western Africa and even in eastern South Africa could be the source of these turtles. The data presented here suggest that more effort should be directed to the assessment of the impact of fishing gear and marine pollution on leatherbacks and that systematic surveys on beaches should be maintained in order to monitor long term fluctuations in stranding levels and spatial stranding patterns. Genetic studies and satellite telemetry would be helpful in clarifying the origin of leatherbacks stranded or incidentally captured on the Brazilian coast.

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