Hama, F. L., D. Karaica, C. Dyc, A. S. Ould Bilal, M. M. Wagne, O. Y. Bâ, W. Mullié2 & J. Fretey

In Issues 2019

Sea turtle stranding events along the Mauritanian coast. pp. 199-210.

Abstract. Despite Mauritania’s proximity to globally recognized sea turtle nesting hotspots, the Bijagos Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau and Boavista Island within the Cabo Verde Archipelago, data on the status of sea turtle species in Mauritania remain scant. To address this, we conducted an extensive 6-year field study with the aim of gathering data about sea turtle stranding events along the Mauritanian coast. Between 2009 and 2016, our team recorded 1787 stranded sea turtles in various stages of decomposition (fresh to advanced), including dry sea turtle carapaces in or near coastal villages. Individuals comprised green turtle (Chelonia mydas, 93%; N=1654), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta, 5%; N=90), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea, 2%; N=28), and olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea, 1%; N=15). Curved carapace length measurements taken from all recorded sea turtles indicated a dominant presence of immature individuals for C. mydas and C. caretta. Fishing lines, net entanglements, hooks, traces of knife cuts, and the remains of slaughtered individuals found in coastal villages indicated anthropogenic threats and poaching. Our results testify to the need to reinforce better fishing regulations and to combat poaching activities, which pose direct threats to sea turtles inhabiting/visiting the Mauritanian sea and beaches from other well-protected areas. The current status of sea turtles in Mauritania is of regional and global concern, because marine turtles are migratory species and the dangers they are exposed to in this area may directly impact on populations in the West Africa region.

Key Words. Atlantic Ocean, Testudines, Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Lepidochelys olivacea, Dermochelys coriacea, poaching, Mauritania, West Africa.

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