Virginia Institute of Marine Science
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
Submitted to National Marine Fisheries Service. Contract #: EA1330-02-SE-0075
Mansfield, K. L., Musick, J. A., & Frisch, K. L. (2004) 2003 Aerial Sea Turtle Survey in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary. https://scholarworks.wm.edu/reports/2397