Defining risk variables causing gas embolism in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) caught in trawls and gillnets.
Incidental capture, or 'bycatch' in fishing gear is a major global threat to sea turtle populations. A recent study showed that underwater entrapment in fishing gear followed by rapid decompression may cause gas bubble formation within the blood stream (embolism) and tissues leading to organ injury, impairment, and even mortality in some bycaught individuals. We analyzed data from 128 capture events using logistic and ordinal regression to examine risk factors associated with gas embolism in sea turtles captured in trawls and gillnets. Likelihood of fatal decompression increases with increasing depth of gear deployment. A direct relationship was found between depth, risk and severity of embolism, which has not been previously demonstrated in any breath-hold diving species. For the trawl fishery in this study, an average trawl depth of 65 m was estimated to result in 50% mortality in by-caught turtles throughout the year. This finding is critical for a more accurate estimation of sea turtle mortality rates resulting from different fisheries and for devising efforts to avoid or minimize the harmful effects of capture.
Fahlman, A; Crespo-Picazo, JL; Sterba-Boatwright, B; Stacy, BA; Garcia-Parraga, D
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)