Recently, large collaborations between sea turtle monitoring programs in the West Atlantic have identified regional declines in growth rates for loggerheads, hawksbills, and greens. Data were used from in-water capture-recapture studies. Karen Bjorndal of the University of Florida has taken the helm on three papers that address the trends for each of these species.
Notably, all species exhibited increases in growth rates until the late 90s, when rates abruptly started to decline and have continued to drop since. Bjorndal et al. suggest that this may be due to a large-scale “ecological regime shift.” This conclusion is supported by the fact that the growth rate declines are exhibited by three species of sea turtles with very different foraging styles in the West Atlantic. For example, greens are herbivorous while hawksbills and loggerheads are carnivorous. This could have major implications for West Atlantic sea turtles, including nesting populations like the hawksbill rookery of Long Island, Antigua.
Check out Bjorndal et al.’s newest 2017 paper for yourself HERE.