Loggerhead turtles are good ocean-observers in stratified mid-latitude regions

TitleLoggerhead turtles are good ocean-observers in stratified mid-latitude regions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPatel, SH, Barco, SG, Crowe, LM, Manning, JP, Matzen, E, Smolowitz, RJ, Haas, HL
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Type of ArticleJournal Article
KeywordsCold pool, Depth, Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Satellite telemetry, Temperature

Since 2009, we have deployed 167 satellite tags on loggerheads within the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Bight of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. These tags collect and transmit location, temperature and depth information and have yielded 18,790 temperature-depth profiles during the highly stratified season (01 June –04 October) for the region. This includes 16,371 profiles exceeding the mixed-layer depth, and, of those, 11,591 full water column profiles reaching the ocean floor. The US MAB is a dynamic ecosystem that is difficult to model due to a combination of complex seasonal water masses and currents and a limited set of tools for taking in situ measurements. This region is also prime foraging habitat for loggerhead sea turtles during the late-spring to summer months. Here we suggest that the habitat usage of loggerhead turtles in the Mid-Atlantic Bight make them good ocean observers within this difficult to model, highly stratified region. The use of turtle-borne telemetry devices has the potential to improve resolution of in situ temperature through depth data and in turn improve oceanographic model outputs. It is imperative that model outputs are continuously updated, as they are regularly used to inform management and conservation decisions.


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