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Absence of a Pelagic Phase in the Life Cycle of the Flatback Turtle, Natator depressa (Garman)

T. A. Walker and C. J. Parmenter
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, 1990), pp. 275-278
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845123
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845123
Page Count: 4
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Absence of a Pelagic Phase in the Life Cycle of the Flatback Turtle, Natator depressa (Garman)
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Abstract

Prey remnants at islands feeding stations of the white-bellied sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster (Gmelin) were examined along the Great Barrier Reef. Juvenile flatback turtles Natator depressa (Garman) 14-24 cm in shell length were preyed upon primarily within the main feeding and nesting range of adult turtles. There was no evidence of predation on the juveniles of other species of sea-turtles which are reported to inhabit oceanic environments. N. depressa therefore appears to be unique among sea-turtles in not having a pelagic phase in its life cycle. The absence of oceanic dispersal would readily explain why the species is endemic to the continental shelf of northern Australia.

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