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The value of long-term, community-based monitoring of marine turtle nesting: a study in the Lamu archipelago, Kenya

  • Mike I. Olendo (a1), Gladys M. Okemwa (a2), Cosmas N. Munga (a3), Lilian K. Mulupi (a1), Lily D. Mwasi (a1), Hassan B. Mohamed (a1), Mxolisi Sibanda (a4) and Harrison O. Ong'anda (a2)...
Abstract
Abstract

Monitoring of nesting beaches is often the only feasible and low-cost approach for assessing sea turtle populations. We investigated spatio-temporal patterns of sea turtle nesting activity monitored over 17 successive years in the Lamu archipelago, Kenya. Community-based patrols were conducted on 26 stretches of beach clustered in five major locations. A total of 2,021 nests were recorded: 1,971 (97.5%) green turtle Chelonia mydas nests, 31 (1.5%) hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata nests, 8 (0.4%) olive ridley Lepidochelys olivacea nests and 11 (0.5%) unidentified nests. Nesting occurred year-round, increasing during March–July, when 74% of nests were recorded. A stable trend in mean annual nesting densities was observed in all locations. Mean clutch sizes were 117.7 ± SE 1 eggs (range 20–189) for green turtles, 103 ± SE 6 eggs (range 37–150) for hawksbill turtles, and 103 ± SE 6 eggs (range 80–133) for olive ridley turtles. Curved carapace length for green turtles was 65–125 cm, and mean annual incubation duration was 55.5 ± SE 0.05 days. The mean incubation duration for green turtle nests differed significantly between months and seasons but not locations. The hatching success (pooled data) was 81.3% (n = 1,841) and was higher for in situ nests (81.0 ± SE 1.5%) compared to relocated nests (77.8 ± SE 1.4%). The results highlight the important contribution of community-based monitoring in Kenya to sustaining the sea turtle populations of the Western Indian Ocean region.

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(Corresponding author) Email gokemwa@kmfri.co.ke
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Supplementary material for this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605317000771

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