Loggerhead turtles in the French Mediterranean Sea

Climate-induced environmental changes are profoundly impacting marine ecosystems and altering species distribution worldwide. Migratory organisms, including sea turtles, are expected to be particularly sensitive to these variations. Here, we studied changes in the size structure and reproductive activity of loggerhead turtles in the French Mediterranean over 30 years. Overall, there was a significant increase in the size of observed loggerheads between 1990 and 2020. However, this increase was only significant during the breeding/nesting season (May to September) and was driven by the increased presence of adults. Furthermore, nesting activity along the French coast was detected in 2002 for the first time in more than 50 years, and has become frequent after 2014, with nests discovered every year. The number of eggs laid as well as incubation duration and success varied among sites but fell within the range reported at established Mediterranean nesting sites. These observations, along with recent reports of breeding activity and evidence of significant sea surface warming, suggest that the north-western Mediterranean basin has become increasingly suitable to loggerhead turtles. We postulate that this range expansion is the result of climate change and propose that emerging nesting activity in France should be closely monitored and guarded against human activities.

Girard, F., Catteau, S., Gambaiani, D., Gérigny, O., Sénégas, J. B., Moisson, P., & Claro, F. (2021). Shift in demographic structure and increased reproductive activity of loggerhead turtles in the French Mediterranean Sea revealed by long-term monitoring. Scientific reports11(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-02629-w

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