Distribution of Sea Turtles in the Mediterranean  


The two nesting Mediterranean Species are included (Loggerhead and Green turtles).
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Distribution map courtesy of MEDASSET

Sea Turtle Distribution in the Mediterranean

Geographical Considerations

The Mediterranean Sea occupies an area of about 2.5 million sq km and provides important resource for the many countries that make up its coastline. As a habitat for marine turtles, the depth shape of the sea floor serve as determining factors for where turtles can live. Adult turtle feeding areas are found in relatively narrow areas of the shallow waters of the continental shelf and slope. Larger areas of shelf, such as the Gulf of Gabes and the northern Adriatic, are commonly used as sea turtle resting or wintering areas.

Sea Turtles in the Mediterranean

Of the seven species of sea turtle, two currently nest in the Mediterranean, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Research has shown major loggerhead nesting concentrations in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Libya. Green Turtle nesting sites are seen mostly in Turkey and Cyprus although minor sites have been established in Israel and Lebanon as well. Leatherback Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are sighted year-round however are not known to nest in the Mediterranean.

These Mediterranean species were established recently by the migration of a very small number of females from the Atlantic. This may have occurred after the last glacial period (Bowen et al., 1994). The isolation of different populations within the Mediterranean must have produced genetic differentiations (Kaska, 2000).

Camiñas, J.A. (2004). Sea Turtles of the Mediterranean Sea: Population Dynamics, Sources of Mortality and Relative Importance of Fisheries Impacts. The Center for Oceanography of Malaga.

References used in distribution maps and population estimations.

* Agardy, T., Last Voyage of the Ancient Mariner p30-37, BBC Wildlife December 1992,

* Bjorndal, Karen A. (Editor), Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles - (Smithsonian) 1995. (ISBN 1-56098-619-0)

* The FAO Species , Catalogue Vol.11. Sea Turtles of the World, 1990. (ISBN 92-5-102891-5)

* Lutz , P. L. and Musick, J. A., The Biology of Sea Turtles - (Marine Science Series )1996. (ISBN 0-8493-8422-2)

* National Research Council, Decline of the Sea Turtles , 1990. (ISBN 1-900455-005)Proceedings of the 15th Annual
Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, 1995.

* Proceedings of the 18th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, 1998.

* Ripples, Jeff Sea Turtles: (World Life Library) 1996. (ISBN 0-309-04247-X)