1Editor, Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter

2Assistant Editor, Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter


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Satellite telemetry studies of sea turtles can be used to: elucidate migratory pathways, abundance, behaviour, distribution, preferred habitat, clutch frequency, neonate dispersal; identify conservation hotspots and inform protected area designation and management; and, engage communities with research and raise awareness about threats to sea turtles and their habitats (for examples see Blumenthal et al., 2006; Rees et al., 2010; Richardson et al., 2010; Scott et al., 2012; Schofield et al., 2013; Weber et al., 2013; Hays et al., 2014; Mansfield et al., 2014; Robinson et al., 2016; Bradshaw et al., 2017; Dawson et al., 2017; Esteban et al., 2018; Tucker et al., 2018). There are concerns about scientific rigour of telemetry studies, animal welfare, accumulation of unpublished or unavailable tracking data, the potential to use the technology indiscriminately without clear objectives, and only a small body of evidence that telemetry studies inform policy and management (summarised by Godley et al., 2008; Jeffers & Godley, 2016). However, carefully designed satellite telemetry studies have the potential to fill some of the knowledge gaps about sea turtles in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia and elsewhere (Hays & Hawkes, 2018).

Jeffers & Godley (2016) determined that the smallest proportion of sea turtle satellite telemetry studies worldwide had occurred in the Indian Ocean when compared with the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean, and that only 4% of studies worldwide had occurred in South-East Asia. Contributing factors to this finding may be the challenges to satellite telemetry in the region, including the cost of transmitters, despite improving affordability in recent years (Jeffers & Godley, 2016), and difficulty in obtaining permits (see Mancini et al., 2018). Despite this, there are two tracking studies from the region where turtles have been tracked over a number of years (e.g Robinson et al., 2018; Tiwari et al., 2018) and combined in a regional analysis (Antonopoulou & Pilcher, 2018). Considering that sea turtle Regional Management Units in the Indian Ocean have been described as having “critical data needs” (Wallace et al., 2011), research efforts (and funds) should be focused so as to address unanswered questions and minimise repetition.

To better understand the breadth and findings of satellite telemetry studies conducted to date in the region and identify knowledge gaps still to be filled, IOTN has produced two special issues on this topic: IOTN28 presents studies from the south-western Indian Ocean north to the Red Sea, Arabian/Persian Gulf, and Arabian Seas, and IOTN29 comprises reports from countries in South Asia, South-East Asia, and the south-eastern Indian Ocean. As the issues will be published in the months prior to the 39th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation to be held in Charleston SC, USA, from 2nd-8th February 2019, we hope the findings presented in IOTN28 (and the forthcoming IOTN29) will be a topic of discussion among participants at the regional meeting for the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia.

We would like to thank all authors of papers in IOTN28 and 29 and members of the IOTN Editorial Board (and especially those who both wrote and reviewed papers) for their significant contribution and patience while we compiled the body of work presented in the two issues. Planning for an IOTN special issue on satellite telemetry studies began in 2016 and it has taken some time to finalise all of the manuscripts, which presented such detail that the issue had to expand from one to two to accommodate the contributed papers. Your efforts have resulted in a combined resource which we anticipate will be of value to IOTN readers and inform future studies and sea turtle management and conservation efforts in the region.

Literature cited:

Antonopoulou, M. & N.J. Pilcher. 2018. Marine Turtle Conservation Project: Monitoring hawksbill nesting populations in the Arabian region. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 28: 15 -20.

Blumenthal, J.M., J.L. Solomon, C.D. Bell, T.J. Austin, G. Ebanks-Petrie, M.S. Coyne, A.C. Broderick & B.J. Godley. 2006. Satellite tracking highlights the need for international cooperation in marine turtle management. Endangered Species Research 2: 51-61.

Bradshaw, P.J., A.C. Broderick, C. Carreras, R. Inger, W. Fuller, R. Snape, K.L. Stokes & B.J. Godley. 2017. Satellite tracking and stable isotope analysis highlight differential recruitment among foraging areas in green turtles. Marine Ecology Progress Series 582: 201-214.

Dawson, T.M., A. Formia, P.D. Agamboué, G.M. Asseko, F. Boussamba, F. Cardiec, E. Chartrain, P.D. Doherty, J.M. Fay, B.J. Godley, F. Lambert, B.D. Koumba Mabert, J.C. Manfoumbi, K. Metcalfe, G. Minton, I. Ndanga, J. Nzegoue, C. K. Kouerey Oliwina, P. Du Plessis, G.-P. Sounguet, D. Tilley, M.J. Witt & S.M. Maxwell. 2017. Informing Marine Protected Area designation and management for nesting olive ridley sea turtles using satellite tracking. Frontiers in Marine Science 4: 312.

Esteban, N., R.F.K. Unsworth, J.B.Q. Gourlay & G.C. Hays. 2018. The discovery of deep-water seagrass meadows in a pristine Indian Ocean wilderness revealed by tracking green turtles. Marine Pollution Bulletin 134: 99-105.

Godley, B.J., J.M. Blumenthal, A.C. Broderick, M.S. Coyne, M.H. Godfrey, L.A. Hawkes & M.J. Witt. 2007. Satellite tracking of sea turtles: Where have we been and where do we go next? Endangered Species Research 4: 3-22.

Hays, G.C., J.A. Mortimer, D. Ierodiaconou & N Esteban. 2014. Use of long-distance migration patterns of an endangered species to inform conservation planning for the world’s largest marine protected area. Conservation Biology 28: 1636-1644.

Hays, G.C. & L.A. Hawkes. 2018. Satellite tracking sea turtles: Opportunities and challenges to address key questions. Frontiers in Marine Science 2018: 432.

Jeffers, V.F. & B.J. Godley. 2016. Satellite tracking in sea turtles: How do we find our way to the conservation dividends? Biological Conservation 199: 172-184.

Mancini, A., O. Attum, I. Elsadek & A.F. Rees. 2018. Satellite tracking studies show nesting site in Egypt is hub for adult green turtles of the Red Sea. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 28: 10-12.

Mansfield, K.L., J. Wyneken, W.P. Porter & J. Luo. 2014. First satellite tracks of neonate sea turtle redefine the ‘lost years’ oceanic niche. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133039. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3039.

Rees, A.F., S. Al Saady, A.C. Broderick, M.S. Coyne, N. Papathanasopoulou & B.J. Godley. 2010. Behavioural polymorphism in one of the world’s largest populations of loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta. Marine Ecology Progress Series 418: 201-212.

Richardson, P.B., M.C. Calosso, J. Claydon, W. Clerveaux, B.J. Godley, Q. Phillips, S. Ranger, A. Sanghera & T.B. Stringell. 2010. Suzie the green turtle: 6000 kilometres for one clutch of eggs? Marine Turtle Newsletter 127: 26-27.

Robinson, N.J., S.J. Morreale, R. Nel & F.V. Paladino. 2016. Coastal leatherback turtles reveal conservation hotspot. Scientific Reports 6: 37851. doi: 10.1038/srep37851.

Robinson, R.J., D. Anders, S. Bachoo, L. Harris, G.R. Hughes, D. Kotze, S. Maduray, S. McCue, M. Meyer, H. Oosthuizen, F.V. Paladino & Paolo Luschi. 2018. Satellite tracking of leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles on the southeast African coastline. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 28: 3-7.

Schofield, G., A. Dimadi, S. Fossette, K.A. Katselidis, D. Koutsoubas, M.K.S. Lilley, A. Luckman, J.D. Pantis, A.D. Karagouni & G.C. Hays. 2013. Satellite tracking large numbers of individuals to infer population level dispersal and core areas for the protection of an endangered species. Diversity and Distributions 19: 834-844.

Scott, R., D.J. Hodgson, M.J. Witt, M.S. Coyne, W. Adnyana, J.M. Blumenthal, A.C. Broderick, A.F. Canbolat, P. Catry, S. Ciccione, E. Delcroix, C. Hitipeuw, P. Luschi, L. Pet-Soede, Kellie Pendoley, P.B. Richardson, A.F. Rees & B.J. Godley. 2012. Global analysis of satellite tracking data shows that adult green turtles are significantly aggregated in Marine Protected Areas. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 1053-1061.

Tiwari, M., R. Baldwin, A. Al Kiyumi, M.S. Willson, A. Willson & E. Possardt. 2018. Satellite telemetry studies on nesting loggerhead turtles in Oman. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 28: 20-22.

Tucker, A.D., R. Baldwin, A. Willson, A. Al Kiyumi, S. Harthi, B. Schroeder, E. Possardt & B. Witherington. 2018. Revised clutch frequency estimated for Masirah Island loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Herpetological Conservation and Biology 13: 158-166.

Wallace B.P., A.D. DiMatteo, A.B. Bolten, M.Y. Chaloupka, B.J. Hutchinson, et al. 2011. Global conservation priorities for marine turtles. PLoS ONE 6: e24510. doi: 10.1371/journal. pone.0024510.

Weber, N., S.B. Weber, B.J. Godley, J. Ellick, M. Witt & A.C. Broderick. 2013. Telemetry as a tool for improving estimates of marine turtle abundance. Biological Conservation 167: 90-96.