Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom



The diet of pelagic loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) off the Balearic archipelago (western Mediterranean): relevance of long-line baits


M.  Revelles a1c1, L.  Cardona a1, A.  Aguilar a1 and G.  Fernández a2
a1 Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain
a2 Fundación AsproNatura, C/ Garcilaso de la Vega, 9 E-07181 Costa d'en Blanes, Calvià, Spain

Article author query
revelles m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
cardona l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
aguilar a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fernández g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

Gut content and stable isotope analyses were used to investigate the feeding habits of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) inhabiting the Balearic archipelago. Turtles caught in the pelagic realm (δ13C: -16.0±0.6‰ and δ15N: 8.5±0.9‰) and turtles caught on the continental shelf (δ13C: -16.7±0.6‰ and δ15N: 8.4±1.3‰) did not differ in their isotopic signatures, suggesting that their diets include the same prey types. A mixing model revealed that for the turtles here analysed, squid and the jellyfish Cotylorhiza tuberculata were the most relevant prey, although stomach contents analysis revealed that carnivorous jellyplankton, neuston, fish and other cephalopods were also consumed. Gut content analysis also indicated that most of the prey identified, including all fish and most cephalopods, were of pelagic origin. Thus, loggerhead sea turtles inhabiting central regions of the western Mediterranean appear to seldom exploit benthic prey, even while on the continental shelf.

(Received June 13 2006)
(Accepted January 11 2007)


Correspondence:
c1 Corresponding author, e-mail: revellesconde@ub.edu