A pulse check for trends in sea turtle numbers across the globe

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 27, 15 March 2024
Hays G.C., Schofield G., Papazekou M., Chatzimentor A., Katsanevakis S., Mazaris A.D.

Population declines of vertebrates are common, but rebuilding marine life may be possible. We assessed trends in sea turtle numbers globally, building 61 time series of abundance extending beyond 2015, representing monitoring in >1200 years. Increases were widespread with significant upward trends, no significant change, and significant downward trends in 28, 28, and 5 time series, respectively. For example, annual nest numbers increased between 1980 and 2018 from around 4,000 to 16,000 for green turtles at Aldabra (Seychelles, Indian Ocean) and between 2008 and 2020 from around 500 to 35,000 for loggerhead turtles in Sal (Cape Verde, north Atlantic). However, conservation concerns remain. Major populations may experience declines, such as loggerhead turtles in Oman, while previous upward trends can be reversed, as with green turtles nesting at Tortuguero (Costa Rica, Caribbean). Further, decreases in abundance were evident in several leatherback turtle time series. These concerns show there is no room for complacency for sea turtle conservation.