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Feeding ecology of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the Galapagos Islands

  • Javier A. Carrión-Cortez (a1) (a2), Patricia Zárate (a1) and Jeffrey A. Seminoff (a3)

Abstract

The Galapagos Islands are among the most important nesting areas for the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In addition, the coastal waters of this oceanic archipelago host many important feeding areas for this species, although little is known about green turtle feeding ecology at these sites. The goal of this study was to identify and quantify the most important items in the diet of the green turtle at the foraging grounds of Bahia Elizabeth, Caleta Derek and Punta Nuñez. Our analysis was based on 65 oesophageal samples from turtles captured in 2006 and 2007. We compared spatial and seasonal composition of diet using non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis (MDS) and analysis of similarity (ANOSIM). Green turtle diet was composed mainly of the algae species Ulva lactuca, Polysiphonia sp., Hypnea sp. and Dictyota sp., and the red mangrove Rhizophora mangle. Turtles also consumed animal matter, mainly cnidarians, albeit to a lesser extent. Content of turtle diets was different among feeding grounds and seasons. The ANOSIM showed that diet composition can differ between foraging grounds using presence/absence of diet items. Even though U. lactuca was the most abundant algae consumed in both seasons, changes in species richness of algae were found between both sampling events, with diet during the warm season more varied than the cold season (χ2 = 16.84, df = 6; P < 0.05).

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Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: J.A. Carrión-Cortez, Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, apartado postal 19B, La Paz B.C.S. 23080, México email: jcarrion@uabcs.mx

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Keywords

Feeding ecology of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the Galapagos Islands

  • Javier A. Carrión-Cortez (a1) (a2), Patricia Zárate (a1) and Jeffrey A. Seminoff (a3)

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