Abstract

Loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta using an important shallow-water foraging ground at Drini Bay, Albania, were monitored over 3 consecutive summers (2008–2010). Working closely with local artisanal fishermen, researchers were able to obtain many of the sea turtles captured as bycatch (nontarget species). There were 407 new records (402 loggerhead and 5 green turtles, Chelonia mydas), with most (99%) being captured in 2 stavnike fish traps (a type of pound net) and a few with mrezh (gill nets). Morphometric data were collected from all captured turtles, and they were allocated into 10-cm size classes (length-frequency-distribution) based on their curved carapace length; caudal measurements were used to assess the developmental-stage of secondary sexual characteristics. An unusually high number of male loggerhead turtles (27%) were captured; their morphometric data were subsequently used as a reference for determining if short-tailed turtles might be adult or sexually developing females. Nesting has not been reported for Albania, so the presence of females is unclear. Drini Bay is also a developmental habitat, as 69% of the studied turtles were yet to mature. Interannual recaptures of 26 turtles allowed their incremental growth rate to be calculated.

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