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18 December 2018 Discovery of a Major East Pacific Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Nesting Population in Northwest Costa Rica
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Abstract

Here we report on a newly discovered nesting population of east Pacific green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in northwest Costa Rica at San José Island, Murcíelago Archipelago, that rivals those of Mexico and the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. A total of 1232 individual green turtles were tagged over 4 nesting seasons (2012–2013 to 2015–2016). Mean (± SD) annual number of nests (1077 ± 414; range, 490-1698 nests) and females (306 ± 133; range, 164-466 females) was higher than those previously reported for Pacific Costa Rica. The number of deposited nests was similar to that registered on the Galápagos main beaches, but density of nests (number of nests/km) was the second highest for any green turtle beach in the eastern Pacific. Reproductive output was similar (mean clutch frequency: 4.4 ± 2.2 clutches and mean clutch size: 75.8 ± 14.6 eggs/clutch), and mean hatching success was higher (0.89 ± 0.14) than those reported at other sites in the eastern Pacific. Because the study site was located on an island within a protected area, several of the common threats that sea turtles face at more accessible mainland sites (i.e., egg poaching, tourist development, and predation by large mammals) were absent. Our data indicate that San José Island is the most important nesting site for east Pacific green turtles in Central America. The large size of this population, along with its isolated and protected status, suggest that this rookery is making a significant contribution to the conservation of east Pacific green turtles. Additional information at the country level will help determine the relative importance of Costa Rica for green turtle nesting in the broad eastern Pacific region.

© 2018 Chelonian Research Foundation
Luis G. Fonseca, Pilar Santidrián Tomillo, Wilbert N. Villachica, Wagner M. Quirós, Marta Pesquero, Maike Heidemeyer, Frank Joyce, Pamela T. Plotkin, Jeffrey A. Seminoff, Eduardo R. Matarrita, and Roldán A. Valverde "Discovery of a Major East Pacific Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Nesting Population in Northwest Costa Rica," Chelonian Conservation and Biology 17(2), 169-176, (18 December 2018). https://doi.org/10.2744/CCB-1264.1
Received: 27 April 2017; Accepted: 27 March 2018; Published: 18 December 2018
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