ABSTRACT

Five species of sea turtles, including leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), were found in the waters east and south of mainland China and the associated islands. Decades of harvesting and habitat degradation have led to a drastic decline in the sea turtle population in the last century. Many foraging grounds and nesting sites have been degraded or have disappeared as a result of human activities. Nowadays, there are only a few nesting sites and even fewer foraging grounds for sea turtles in China. Fishery bycatch is also believed to have been a major cause of sea turtle mortality in recent years. There is an urgent need for more efforts to be focused on the conservation of sea turtles in the region. However, limited information is available, which has impeded the formulation of effective conservation measures. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview on the current population and conservation status of sea turtles, as well as recommendations for their effective management in China.

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