Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Every year, thousands of sea turtles seasonally utilize the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters of Virginia as foraging grounds and developmental habitat. Sea turtles migrate north into Virginia’s waters in the spring when sea temperatures warm to approximately 18° C (Coles, 1999). Since 1979, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has recorded high sea turtle mortalities in the spring of the year when sea turtles first migrate into Virginia’s waters. Each year, between 200 and 400 sea turtle stranding deaths are recorded within Virginia’s waters. The vast majority of these strandings are juvenile loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles. Historic stranding data show that 50.0% to 55.0% of the yearly turtle deaths occur in May and June when the turtles first enter the Bay (Lutcavage, 1981; Lutcavage and Musick, 1985; Keinath et al., 1987; Coles 1999; Mansfield et al., 2002). At the time when stranding counts are highest, mean water temperatures range between 18° and 22° C (Coles, 1999). Kemp’s ridleys also have an additional peak in strandings in the fall (October and November) when temperatures begin to drop (Lutcavage and Musick, 1985; Coles, 1999).......



Sea turtles, Chesapeake Bay

Publication Statement

Submitted to National Marine Fisheries Service. Contract #: EA1330-02-SE-0075



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.