ABSTRACT: Elucidating spatio-temporal movements of animals is an integral component of wildlife conservation and protected species management. Between 2008 and 2010 we satellite tracked 15 adult female hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata in the eastern Pacific Ocean to evaluate their movement behavior and to guide management and conservation efforts of this highly endangered population. Movements and habitat use were highly neritic, and post-nesting migration distances (maximum = 283.11 km) were short relative to migrations of other sea turtle species. In foraging areas, the majority of hawksbills established restricted, inshore home ranges within mangrove estuaries. A large proportion (>65%) of turtle location points fell within protected areas, although many of these sites lack enforcement and monitoring. The consistent use of estuarine and mangrove habitat for nesting and foraging may explain why hawksbills went virtually undetected in the eastern Pacific for decades. The spatially restricted and neritic life cycles of adult hawksbills in the eastern Pacific highlight threats (e.g. overlap with coastal fisheries, increased susceptibility to habitat degradation and/or catastrophic events) and opportunities for conservation (e.g. acute conservation target areas, less variant jurisdictional boundaries/regulations) for this species. Our results underscore the importance of strengthening protected area management, mangrove estuary protection and hawksbill research and conservation in the eastern Pacific.
KEY WORDS: Satellite telemetry · Movement · Home range · Mangrove estuary · Migration · Protected area · Eastern Pacific