Plasma biochemistry profiles aid health assessment of marine turtles, but knowledge of the influence of regional biological factors (e.g., habitat, diet) on marine turtle blood plasma values is limited. To investigate the influence of diet on plasma biochemistry values in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas), we used carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes to provide a quantitative estimate of forage items in green turtles feeding at two distinct areas (Bonefish Hole and South Flats) in Bimini, Bahamas. Plasma samples were obtained from 13 turtles in Bonefish Hole (a mangrove tidal estuary) and 15 turtles in South Flats (an open water seagrass bed) in 2018. All turtles appeared outwardly healthy. Sessile filter feeders contributed the largest proportion of diet in Bonefish Hole, and seagrass contributed the highest proportion of diet in South Flats. Turtles at Bonefish Hole presented significantly lower cholesterol, total protein, phosphorus, triglycerides, and aspartate transaminase compared to South Flats. Across all turtles, those feeding primarily on red algae presented the highest uric acid and alkaline phosphatase, and turtles with a seagrass-dominated diet had the highest cholesterol. Understanding dietary influence on plasma biochemistry may help explain variances seen in local health and nutritional evaluations, and the trends reported can aid the interpretation of plasma analyte values in marine turtles.
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Vol. 56 • No. 4