Growth of wild juvenile Caribbean green turtles, Chelonia mydas

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Journal of Herpetology

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Investigators have reported growth rates for wild juvenile green turtles, Chelonia mydas, from a variety of locations, including the Gulf of California (Mar- quez and Doi, 1973), Australia (Limpus and Walter, 1980), the Indian Ocean (LeToquin et al., 1980), the Hawaiian archipelago (Balazs, 1982), eastern Florida (Mendon:a, 1981; Frazer and Ehrhart, 1985), Bermuda (Burnett-Herkes et al., 1984) and the Bahamas (Bjorn- dal and Bolten, 1988). Thus, it is now possible to com- pare growth rates of juvenile green turtles from these locations. For example, previous investigations in- dicate that growth rates are much faster in Atlantic and Caribbean waters than in the Pacific (Bjorndal and Bolten, 1988). Frazer and Ladner (1986) provided a growth curve based on data gathered by Schmidt (1916) on Chelonia in waters near the U.S. Virgin Is- lands (then the Danish West Indies) early in this cen- tury. They suggested that such data might allow the first assessment of any long-term changes in growth rate if compared to growth data gathered in the same waters in more recent years. The present study was undertaken to estimate a growth curve for juvenile green turtles in waters surrounding St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. We compared our ob- servations on growth rates with Schmidt's (1916) for green turtles of similar size in the same waters 65 years earlier.

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