Reproductive Biology of Marine Turtles under Extreme Climatic Conditions

Marine Research Foundation

Dataset credit

Data provider
Originating data center
Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT)
Project partner
Marine Research Foundation, Sabah, Malaysia
The Marine Research Foundation was established to further the understanding of marine ecosystems and functions, and conserve the abundance and diversity of marine flora and fauna through research, conservation and education activities. This is achieved at a regional level through partnerships resulting in numerous projects and activities, ranging from community conservation projects in Papua New Guinea, industry partnerships in Dhamra, India, development of a National Action Plan for Marine Turtles in Eritrea, development of a Network of Marine Protected Areas design for the Sulu Sulawesi seas, carrying out a Status of Sea Turtles project in Qatar, satellite tracking of turtles from the Vietnam, the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iran and Qatar, laparoscopic studies on foraging marine turtles, environmental consulting, and technical advisory roles, among others. MRF has been actively involved in research and conservation of turtles in Qatar since 2005, in partnership with (then) the Supreme Council for the Environment and Nature Reserves, the Environmental Studies Center at Qatar University, Ras Laffan Industrial City and URS Qatar. The Foundation also supports efforts to integrate the conservation activities of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group into regional and national conservation programs. The MRF brings with is over 20 years of turtle research and conservation through its Executive Director, Dr. Nicolas Pilcher, who is also Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group.

Environmental Studies Center, Qatar University
The Environmental Studies Center was established in 1980 by the Emiri Decree No.13. ESC is one of the oldest research centers in the Gulf region and since its establishment, the Center has established a name for itself as the leading authority in marine science of the region through the hard work of its members. The objectives of the Center are to support scientific research, applying modern technologies in different fields of economic developments, and monitoring international scientific progress. ESC conducts basic and applied research, and develops research practices in different scientific, industrial, and agricultural fields, with special emphasis on the established industries in the State of Qatar as well as on the natural, agricultural and live-stock resources available. ESC also participates in the transfer of international technology and its adaptation for implementation in Qatar. At the forefront of ESC’s aims is the conduct of necessary studies and creation of policies which aim to optimise the utilization of natural resources.

Environmental Futures Centre, Griffith University, Australia
The Environmental Futures Centre, at Griffith University, Australia, is a research and teaching institute which produces work of international standing. EFC staff and associates contribute to the understanding and improved management of species, communities and ecosystems in Australia and internationally, with particular reference to the effects of human activity. EFC researchers hold distinctive strengths in basic and applied science, including conservation biology, ecological health assessment, environmental chemistry, population modeling, wildlife management, wildlife genetics and molecular ecology. EFC will be the project collaborating partner for the genetics work and will conduct the multiple stock analysis from turtles in foraging grounds.

Project sponsor or sponsor description
This project is sponsored by the Qatar Foundation NPRP Grant 5-1141-1-1198


Primary contact Nicolas Pilcher Marine Research Foundation
Data entry Michael Coyne



Turtle populations in the Arabian Gulf have been the victims of increased man-induced pressures since the discovery of petroleum reserves in strata beneath the ground and Gulf waters early in the 20th century. Two primary marine turtle species inhabit the Gulf: the Hawksbill and Green. The hawksbill is listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Listâ"¢. The green turtle Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus 1766) listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red Listâ"¢.

Nesting turtle populations have been well documented in the Middle East, but scant information exists on foraging populations in the region. Data on this dominant phase of their live cycle are critical to determine how turtle populations will be influenced by various natural (e.g. climate change) and anthropogenic (e.g. fishery pressure) stresses. Unfortunately, there is no published information for Arabian Gulf Chelonia mydas or Eretmochelys imbricata on sex ratios in the wild or on the dynamics of turtle populations with regard to growth, survival and sex ratios and no descriptions of non-adult components of the populations. These data are crucial and among the top research priorities for understanding the status of turtles in those life stages least studied by modern science (NRC 2010). Particularly lacking for the Gulf are long-term estimates of population abundance trends that are needed to model sea turtle demography (sensu Chaloupka 2002) and to develop a better understanding of long term ecological processes (Inchausti & Halley 2001). Population abundance estimates, such as those based on foraging ground captureâ€"markâ€"recapture programs, which we aim to conduct in the present study, can provide detailed sex and age-class-specific demographic information (Limpus & Chaloupka 1997, Chaloupka & Limpus 2001, 2002, Pilcher 2010a).

Mean global surface temperatures are reported to have warmed by approximately 0.6°C in the last century at a an unprecedented rate (IPCC 2001, Brohan et al. 2006) and modeled projections for climate change in the next 100 years predict further accelerated warming (IPCC 2001). Biodiversity conservation strategies must therefore look to the future and plan for potential outcomes over a range of possible changes in global, regional and local climate, but anticipating species’ reactions to climate change is problematic given the time frames and temperature gradients. There is a growing body of literature documenting advances in the annual phenology (timing of seasonal activities) of many animal and plant species in concert with observed climate change (reviewed in Walther et al. 2002), and a common result is that spring events occur earlier (such as arrival at nesting grounds). If marine turtles are not able to adapt to changes such as these, this could have notable repercussions for turtles nesting in the Gulf (where nesting might continue so that nests are exposed to lethally high incubation temperatures). Over eighty percent of species (from plants to vertebrates) reviewed by Parmesan & Yohe (2003) exhibited shifts in phenology related in some way to climate change. We suggest that the Arabian Gulf offers a ‘living laboratory’ for understanding impacts on population demographics as a result of climate extremes, and that marine turtles are ideal study subjects.



Supplemental information

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This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
prognumProgram number
tag_idPTT ID
lcLocation class
iqQuality indicator
dir1Dir 1
nb_mesNumber of messages received
big_nb_mesdefinition not provided
best_levelBest signal strength in dB
pass_durationPass duration in seconds
nopcNumber Of Plausibility Checks successful (from 0-4)
calcul_freqCalculated frequency
altitudeAltitude used for location calculation
speciesSpecies name
project_idSTAT Project ID
lc_filterParameters to location filtering
speed_filterParameters to speed filtering
distance_filterParameters to distance filtering
topo_filterParameters to topo filtering
time_filterParameters to time filtering
angle_filterParameters to angle filtering
life_stageLife stage of the animal
genderGender of the animal
wetdryWet or dry
wetdry_filterParameters to Wet or dry filterint
obs_datetimeDate and time (local time zone)
timezone_hTime difference from UTC
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles10,501
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2014-02-28
Date, End2016-03-12
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude25.17 - 47.68
Longitude-122.14 - 51.85
Coord. prec.3 decimal digits
Data typeTelemetry location
TracklinesYES (ID: 1135)
Traveled (km)23,951
Travel hours88,030
Contr. throughSatellite Tracking and Analysis Tool
Sharing policy Permission required
Shared with SWOT
GBIF (via DOI)*
* Aggregated summary
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics