Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Sea Turtles in the Western North Atlantic and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico from Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS)

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"Systematic surveys, along with opportunistic sightings, have provided important information on sea turtle (Cheloniidae and Dermochelydae) distributions,knowledge which can help reduce the risk of harmful human interaction. In 1991 and 1992, the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS) of the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, provided a unique opportunity to gain additional, synoptic information on the spatial and temporal distribution of sea turtles along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts by asking recreational anglers if they had observed a sea turtle on their fishing trip. During the spring and summer months of those years, as water temperatures warmed, the MRFSS documented an increase in sea turtle sightings in inshore waters and in a northward direction along the U.S. Atlantic Coast and in a westward direction along the northern Gulf of Mexico. This pattern reversed in the late summer and fall months as water temperatures cooled, with sea turtles concentrating along Georgia and both coasts of Florida. Although the MRFSS did not provide species or size composition of sea turtles sighted, and effort varied depending upon location of fishing activity and time of year anglers were queried, it did provide an additional and useful means of ascertaining spatial and temporal distributions of sea turtles along these coasts."



sea turtles, marine resources, spatial analysis