Health status of a total of 57 loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta; 42 migratory and 15 residential turtles) was analyzed using body condition and hematologic parameters. A subset of 18 juvenile migratory loggerhead sea turtles in the fall of 1997 and 15 residential turtles in the summer of 2000 were analyzed for barnacle epibiota. The migratory group had significantly higher red blood cell counts and percent heterophils and significantly lower percent lymphocyte and absolute eosinophil counts, as well as significantly lower plasma concentrations of calcium, sodium, chloride, potassium, glucose, alkaline phosphatase, and anion gap. Many of these variations may be because of physiology of migration. A positive association between turtle weight and hematocrit was detected and may be because of larger turtles diving for longer periods of time. There were no significant differences of epibiota load, health of the turtles, or condition index between turtles captured during the two events.
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Vol. 36 • No. 4