ABSTRACT

Over 4 years, 2001–2004, leatherback-turtle monitoring was conducted on all the potential nesting sites in French Guiana. We estimated minimal leatherback turtle nest numbers of 23,107, 12,229, 13,480, 11,012, respectively. The Awala-Yalimapo Beach, sometimes considered a good estimator of the overall nesting activity for the country, has hosted a significant proportion of the leatherback turtle nests (42% ± 2%), but this percentage is much lower than formerly described. The relative importance of this nesting site is discussed in light of remote sensing data, suggesting that nest numbers recorded in Awala-Yalimapo may have misrepresented leatherback turtle population trends. Indeed, remote sensing data indicate that the total sandy shoreline available in French Guiana has regularly evolved over the last decades, allowing leatherback turtle nesting attempts out of the scope of monitoring. The importance of a monitoring effort integrating the specific coastal dynamic of the Guianas region is highlighted.

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