Habitat mapping of the Currais MPA in Southern Brazil: a potential foraging ground for juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas)

The potential of the Currais archipelago (25°44’S, 48°22’W), a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Southern Brazil, as a foraging ground for juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas), was investigated between February and June 2014. Both biological and physical parameters of the habitats around the islands were characterized through underwater linear transects to create habitat maps. Green turtle hotspots around the island were defined, using data on green turtle sightings collected through interviews. The most abundant groups of green turtle diet items characterized in the Currais archipelago were red algae (20.16%), green algae (19.38%), Protopalythoa variabilis (18.44%) and Palythoa caribaeorum (11.36%). Depth around the islands varied from 1m to 8m and the rugosity index varied from 0.45 to 1.00. Most green turtles sightings were recorded for habitats with a high abundance of macroalgae and P. variabilis, shallow waters (<6m) and moderate substrate complexity. The Currais archipelago provides suitable conditions as a foraging ground for juvenile green turtles in the Southwest Atlantic; these findings might have implications for the future management of the Currais MPA. Moreover, this study shows the value of habitat mapping as a tool in identifying important areas to protect endangered species, such as Chelonia mydas.

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0731 - Marine spatial planning