Hawksbill turtle monitoring in Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles: an eight-fold increase in annual nesting numbers

Zoë C. Allen, Nirmal J. Shah, Alastair Grant, Gilles-David Derand, Diana Bell

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Results of hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata nest monitoring on Cousin Island, Seychelles, indicate an 8-fold increase in abundance of nesting females since the early 1970s when the population was highly depleted. From 1999 to 2009, the population increased at an average rate of 16.5 turtles per season. Females were individually tagged, and nesting data were derived from indirect evidence of nesting attempts (i.e. tracks) and actual turtle sightings (56 to 60% of all encounters). Survey effort varied over the years for a variety of reasons, but the underlying trends over time are considered robust. To overcome biases associated with variable survey effort, we estimated population changes by fitting a Poisson distribution to data on numbers of times each individual was seen at this breeding site in a season. This was used to estimate unseen individuals, and hence the total number of nesting females each season. The maximum number of individuals emerging onto Cousin Island to nest within a single season was estimated to be 256 (2007 to 2008) compared to 23 in 1973. Tag returns indicate that many turtles nest on both Cousin and Cousine Islands (2 km apart), and that some inter-island nesting also occurs between Cousin and more remote islands within the Seychelles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalEndangered Species Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Eretmochelys imbricata
  • Indian Ocean
  • Seychelles
  • Turtle conservation

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