Potential impacts of historical disturbance on green turtle health in the unique & protected marine ecosystem of Palmyra Atoll (Central Pacific)

Katherine W. McFadden, Andrés Gómez, Eleanor J. Sterling, Eugenia Naro-Maciel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Palmyra Atoll, in the Central Pacific, is a unique marine ecosystem because of its remarkably intact food web and limited anthropogenic stressors. However during World War II the atoll was structurally reconfigured into a military installation and questions remain whether this may have impacted the health of the atoll's ecosystems and species. To address the issue we assessed green sea turtle (. n=. 157) health and exposure to contaminants at this foraging ground from 2008 to 2012. Physical exams were performed and blood was sampled for testosterone analysis, plasma biochemistry analysis, hematology and heavy metal exposure. Hematological and plasma chemistries were consistent with concentrations reported for healthy green turtles. Heavy metal screenings revealed low concentrations of most metals, except for high concentrations of iron and aluminum. Body condition indices showed that <1% of turtles had poor body condition. In this study, we provide the first published blood values for a markedly healthy sea turtle population at a remote Central Pacific Atoll.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume89
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014

Keywords

  • Contaminant
  • Health
  • Marine turtles
  • Palmyra Atoll
  • Plasma biochemistry
  • Toxicants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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