Habitat Use by Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Bottom-set gillnet fisheries that target flounder in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina are responsible for incidentally taking juvenile sea turtles during the fall months. This is expecially problematic given that it is the State's most valuable finfish fishery. The Division of Marine Fisheries has employed a variety of management tools to address this problem including: closed areas, mandatory permits, reporting and observer coverage, gear restrictions, net attendance, goals for reduced strandings, and incidental take limits. In 2002, the National Marine Fisheries Service was forced to permanently close the deepwater portion of the fishery due to sea turtle takes. Shallow water areas remained open, with portions closed seasonally when takes exceeded certain levels. 

Using satellite telemetry, Catherine McClellan examined how loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, interacted with the inshore large-mesh gillnet fishery. She found that in Pamlico Sound, loggerheads spent 64 to 70 percent of their time in deep water areas that are closed to gillnet fishing.

Project Partner(s)
Duke University