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Sea Turtles of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States

Carol Ruckdeschel and C. Robert Shoop With Meg Hoyle, Photo Editor Foreword by

Publication Year: 2006

Written by two of the Southeast's foremost authorities on sea turtle conservation, this is an accessible, fully illustrated guide to the species that frequent the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

No one who encounters a sea turtle soon forgets it. The leatherback, for instance, can grow to huge proportions, commonly approaching eight feet in length and more than half a ton in weight. Powerful swimmers, they are also among the deepest divers of all air-breathing sea creatures. Despite these assets, the survival of the leatherback, like that of all sea turtle species, is under constant threat from commercial fishing operations, overdevelopment of nesting grounds, pollution, and predation by introduced species.

The guide opens with comprehensive coverage of the sea turtle's evolution, juvenile and adult life cycles, nesting, diet and feeding, disease and parasites, predators, and conservation issues. Each subsequent chapter is dedicated to a particular turtle species: loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, green sea turtle, hawksbill, and olive ridley. The account of each species describes distribution, habitats, general appearance, life history and behavior, and conservation. For each species, photographs of hatchlings and adults and a map showing distribution and migration provide further information.

Sea turtles have been swimming the seas for one hundred million years. Yet all of the species in this book--indeed, all sea turtles worldwide--are on U.S. and international endangered lists. Biologists Carol Ruckdeschel and C. Robert Shoop have dedicated their careers to learning about sea turtles-and to ensuring that we understand that we are stakeholders in the fate of these ancient creatures. With this guide in hand, readers will be better equipped to understand sea turtle biology and support sea turtle conservation efforts.

Species information includes

  • distribution
  • habitats
  • general appearance
  • life history and behavior
  • conservation

Additional features include:

  • identification keys
  • glossary
  • selected bibliography
  • detailed drawings of distinctive features
  • color photographs
  • distribution maps

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

Sea turtles are among the most magnificent marine creatures, with a charisma that makes them almost mythical. Although relatively few people have ever seen a sea turtle in its natural habitat, most of us know them from films and speak of them with awe...

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p. ix

Sea turtles are an important part of our native fauna. Although rarely seen, they are seriously affected by human activities. Sea turtles must lay their eggs on beaches, and that need often puts them in conflict with human beach users...

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p. xi

Numerous agencies have contributed to the support of our studies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Turner Foundation, and the...

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About Sea Turtles

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pp. 1-32

All turtles are reptiles, and all have a shell consisting of two parts: the top is called the carapace, and the bottom, the plastron. Instead of teeth, turtles have a horny covering on the beak, the rhamphotheca. The front limbs of sea turtles are modified...

Species Accounts

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pp. 33-106

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pp. 35-51

Leatherbacks, because of their extensive migrations and specialized food requirements, are often seen in loose groups, usually well offshore. Sometimes more than a dozen may be observed in a small area. Depending on whether they are feeding...

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pp. 53-67

Loggerheads are the most abundant sea turtles along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States south of Cape Cod. When the species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, genetically distinct subpopulations were unknown...

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Kemp’s Ridley

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pp. 69-77

Kemp’s ridley is the most endangered of all the sea turtle species. A few thousand adult females nest in a single locality in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and a very few nest in other scattered locations, such as Padre Island, Texas. Juveniles are frequently encountered...

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Olive Ridley

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pp. 79-84

The olive ridley is a tropical species found in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. Major nesting areas occur near low-salinity waters around the mouths of rivers and estuaries. In the western North Atlantic Ocean, the species had been limited...

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Green Turtle

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pp. 85-96

The worldwide abundance of green turtles is unknown, but populations are declining in all ocean basins. Several nesting populations have been lost altogether, and there is no indication that the beaches are being recolonized. Nesting numbers and the number...

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pp. 97-106

Hawksbills are not abundant in U.S. waters. Most populations are considered to be declining, but relatively large nesting populations still occur in Yemen, northeastern Australia, the Red Sea, and Oman...

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pp. 107-108

All sea turtle species have declined during the past 200–300 years as a direct or indirect result of human activities. All species are officially recognized as in need of assistance to relieve the pressures limiting their reproductive success and survival to maturity...

Appendix: Keys to Sea Turtles of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

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pp. 109-124


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pp. 125-129

Additional Selected Reading

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p. 131


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pp. 133-136

E-ISBN-13: 9780820344461
E-ISBN-10: 0820326143
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820326146

Page Count: 152
Illustrations: 79 color photos, 6 maps, 32 figures
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 784960313
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Sea Turtles of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States