a1 Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, P.O. Box 22085, E-46071 Valencia, Spain.
a2 Grupo Jaragua, El Vergel, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
a3 Centre for Ecology and Conservation, School of Biosciences, University of Exeter Cornwall Campus, Penryn, UK
a4 Also at: Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, Urb. Galá, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Nesting by marine turtles in the Caribbean has declined considerably, mainly because of human exploitation, but there has previously been no monitoring in the Dominican Republic. We present the first detailed assessment of the status of marine turtle nesting in the country, based on surveys during 2006–2010. Nesting populations of hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata and leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea are of regional importance and the green turtle Chelonia mydas is still present, although nesting in low numbers. The two main nesting sites are within protected areas: the Jaragua National Park in the south-west, important for leatherback turtles (mean of 126 nests per season), and Del Este National Park on Saona Island in the south-east, principally for hawksbill turtles (mean of 100 nests per season). Comparison with historical data suggests all rookeries are profoundly reduced in size. Although the main nesting beaches are within protected areas, illegal egg-take and meat consumption continues there, and also elsewhere in the country.
(Received May 18 2011)
(Revised July 05 2011)
(Accepted July 28 2011)