Priority Ocean Areas for Protection in the Mid-Atlantic
Findings of NRDC's Marine Habitat Workshop
Rationale: high abundance; at risk from fisheries
Seasons and depths important for protection: May–October critical; pelagic
This area, along the edge of the shelf break from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod, is of importance for leatherback and loggerhead turtles. It overlaps with the area of the swordfish fishery and where squid are found. Information on leather-back and loggerhead populations on the shelf is partly gathered from fisheries, whose gear sometimes catches the turtles. Because they only sometimes show up dead on the beach, and are sometimes blown out to sea, it is difficult to track the number of deaths from longline fishing gear.
Rationale: migratory corridor
Seasons and depths important for protection: April–June and September–November critical; benthic
This is a nearshore migratory corridor along which sea turtles travel seasonally. The northern migration takes place from April through June, the return from September through November. Turtles that use this inshore corridor include logger-heads, Kemp’s ridleys, and leatherbacks. It takes loggerhead turtles 20 years to mature; they are therefore an exceptionally vulnerable species. The northern subpopulation of loggerheads is disproportionately caught in longline fisheries.
Rationale: biodiversity; nursery area
Seasons and depths important for protection: year-round; pelagic
The shape and location of this polygon is based on Auster, Crowder, and Musick’s agreement on the average location of high-density regions of Sargassum along the Gulf Stream. Sargassum is essential habitat for Sargassum-associated fishes, fishes that serve as prey for larger pelagic predators, and as a nursery for sea turtles and many fishes.
Bass, A.L., S. P. Epperly, J. Braun, D. W. Owens, and R.M. Patterson. 1998. Natal Origin and Sex Ratios of Foraging Sea Turtles in the Pamlico-Albemarle Estuarine Complex. U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-415: 137–38.
Bolten, A.B., K.A. Bjornday, H.R. Martins, T. Dellinger, M.J. Boscoito, S.E. Encalada, and B.W. Bowen. 1998. Transatlantic Developmental Migrations of Loggerhead Sea Turtles Demonstrated by mtDNA Sequence Analysis. Ecol. Applic. 8: 1–7.
Bowen, B. W. 1995. Tracking Marine Turtles with Genetic Markers. BioScience 45: 528–34.
Epperly, S.P,. et al. 1995. Winter Distribution of Sea Turtles in the Vicinity of Cape Hatteras and Their Interactions with the Summer Flounder Trawl Fishery. Bull. Mar. Sci. 56: 547–68.
Laurent, L. P., M. N. Casale, B. J. Bradai, G. Gerosa Bodley, A.C. Broderick, W. Schroth, D. Shierwater, A.M. Levy, D. Freggii, E.M. Abd El-Mawla, D.A. Hadoud, H.E. Gomati, M. Domingo, M. Hadjichristophorou, L. Kornaraky, F. Demirayak, and C. Gautier. 1998. Molecular Resolution of Marine Turtle Stock Composition in Fishery Bycatch: A Case Study in the Mediterranean. Molecular Ecol. 7: 1529–42.
Norrgard, J. 1995. Determination of Stock Composition and Natal Origin of a Juvenile Loggerhead Turtle Population (Caretta caretta) in Chesapeake Bay Using Mito-chondrial DNA Analysis. M. A. Thesis. College of William and Mary, Williams-burg, VA, p. 47.
Rankin-Baransky, K.C. 1997. Origin of Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Western North Atlantic as Determined by mtDNA Analysis. M.S. Thesis. Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.
Scott, G. P., and L. A. Brown. 1997. Estimates of Marine Mammal and Marine Turtle Catch by the U.S. Atlantic Pelagic Longline Fleet in 1994–95. National Marine Fisheries Service, Miami Lab. MIA-96/97-28.
Sears, C. J. 1994. Preliminary Genetic Analysis of the Population Structure of Georgia Loggerhead Sea Turtles. U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-351: 135–39.
Sears, C.J., B.W. Bowen, R.W. Chapman, S.B. Galloway, S.R. Hopkins-Murphy, and C.M. Woodley. 1995. Demographic Composition of the Feeding Population of Juvenile Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) off Charleston, South Carolina: Evidence from Mitochondrial DNA Markers. Mar. Biol. 123: 869–74.
TEWG. 1998. Assessment of the Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead Sea Turtle Population in the Western North Atlantic. U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC, 409.
Witzell, W.N. 1998. Distributions and Relative Abundances of Sea Turtles Caught Incidentally by the U.S. Pelagic Longline Fleet in the Western North Atlantic Ocean. 1992–95.
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