Understanding the ecological interactions that underlie marine ecosystem functioning requires sufficient data describing habitat utilization by mobile species. Hawksbill turtles are considered key species in coral reef-associated communities, owing to their specific foraging preferences, yet new information is still revealing details of the spatial and temporal aspects of habitat use. We used passive acoustic telemetry to monitor the movements of 18 juvenile hawksbills (CCLmin 32.0 – 59.7 cm, mean ± SD = 43.9 ± 6.7) at a developmental foraging site in the Mesoamerican barrier reef, Lighthouse Reef Atoll (LRA) in Belize (tracking duration 10 to 1414 d, mean ± SD = 570 ± 484). Though specific home ranges were difficult to quantify, several turtles showed high site fidelity over timescales of months to years, with occasional wide-ranging use of the atoll. Diel variation in the number of detections received strongly suggest nocturnal resting. Long term tracking data reveal 3 degrees of site fidelity across the atoll, based on the number of detection days near individual stations: high residency (n = 4), sequential residency (n = 5), and transient behavior (n = 4). These variations in movement raise questions about the differentiation of foraging habitats and degree of individual specialisation within this population, as well as the influences of microhabitats and human disturbance.
Endangered Species Research / Vol. Article in press