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The Influence of Weather and Tides on the Land Basking Behavior of Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Galapagos Islands

Maxwell, Sara M., Jeglinski, Jana W. E., Trillmich, Fritz, Costa, Daniel P., Raimondi, Peter T.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology 2014 v.13 no.2 pp. 247-251
Chelonia mydas, air temperature, cloud cover, digestion, energy expenditure, linear models, males, thermoregulation, tides, turtles, wildlife management, Galapagos Islands
We monitored green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) land basking behavior on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos Islands to determine the potential influence of tide level and weather on the presence and abundance of turtles. Using generalized linear models, we found that both presence and abundance of turtles were related to lower tide levels but that abundance was further related to higher air temperatures, reduced cloud cover, and falling tides; additionally, we recorded more males than have been found in other studies (males = 41.5% of observations). We hypothesize that haul out during low tide reduces energy expenditure of activities such as coming to the surface to breathe; however, more turtles take advantage of this behavior when conditions such as air temperature and cloud cover are more conducive to physiological benefits such as thermoregulation or acceleration of digestion.