Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Virginia Marine Resources Report Number 2001-04


Virginia is the northern most nesting region regularly utilized by loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) along the eastern coast of the United States. Along the southern shoreline of Virginia, between two and ten nests have been recorded annually since 1989 within Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Since 1992, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has attached eight satellite transmitters to nesting loggerhead sea turtles in order to monitor their interesting movements and falVwinter migrations. VIMS has tracked the same nesting loggerhead three separate times during the 1993, 1995 and 1997 nesting seasons. This turtle has been observed to migrate into the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay between nesting events and prior to her fall migrations. This project has demonstrated that nesting loggerhead sea turtles return to Virginia over subsequent seasons to nest, and utilize the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays as internesting and post-nesting habitat. Late season nesters tracked by VIMS have migrated south after their last recorded Virginia nesting event and have traveled along the coasts of North and South Carolina, in two cases establishing fall residency off the Carolinas. Three turtles have been tracked as far south as eastern Florida, with two entering the Gulf of Mexico before satellite transmissions ceased. The tracking data generated by this project suggest that the adult turtles utilizing Virginia as nesting habitat preferentially utilize either the orth Atlantic region or South Atlantic region as over-wintering habitat. Temperature ranges within which tagged turtles have remained range between 13° and 31 ° C. Three tagged turtles have remained in Virginia's waters until sea surface temperatures dropped to between 13° and 16° C before migrating south.



Sea Turtles, Virginia



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