The Global Male Sea Turtle Initiative
Why study male sea turtles?
Much of what we know about the ecology and biology of sea turtles is based on nesting females, and to a lesser extent on juveniles in foraging and developmental habitats. These studies have sought mainly to understand natal homing, nest site fidelity, migratory movements, nesting trends, somatic growth rates, survival rates, and population structure.
Comparatively little effort has been invested in understanding male sea turtle ecology, and even less has focused on the management and conservation of male turtles. Unlike females, males only rarely come ashore and the difficulties posed by capturing males at sea have made locating their feeding, courtship, and mating areas a challenge.
Nonetheless, studying males is critically important. For example, climate change is expected to decrease the proportion of males in most populations because warmer temperatures tend to favor the production of females over males. In fact, the proportion of males to females needed to maintain a healthy sea turtle population was recently identified as one of the key unsolved mysteries of sea turtles (see SWOT report, vol II, pp. 6-13). If males become scarcer, however, the contribution of each individual male turtle to a population’s genetic stock could be expected to increase.
Studying male sea turtles in foraging and mating areas across the globe is vital to better understand male habits, reproductive strategies, operational sex ratios, population dynamics, and habitat needs.
Management actions to conserve sea turtle populations in the future will need to address the roles of male turtles more effectively and to consider how the impacts of regional climatic cycles, primary threats, and conditions in foraging areas apply to both females and males.
Adding males to the conservation equation is essential for future sea turtle populations and the focus of recently created international initiative—the Global Male Sea Turtle Initiative—to promote the study of male sea turtles worldwide (See: Swot Report Vol XIII, P 10-11).
Boyd Nathaniel Lyon
On August 10th, 2006, Boyd Nathaniel Lyon, age 37, died in the water off the coast of Melbourne Beach, FL doing the thing he most loved to do, trying to capture an elusive male sea turtle.
Promote and Improve the study of the biology and ecology of male sea turtles worldwide
Support current efforts on the study of male sea turtles worldwide
Improve the conservation of sea turtles worldwide through increased understanding of an important segment of sea turtle populations
Indentify and propose new conservation strategies for sea turtle populations