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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 861396, 7 pages
Research Article

Interannual Differences for Sea Turtles Bycatch in Spanish Longliners from Western Mediterranean Sea

1Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Málaga, Puerto Pesquero s/n, Fuengirola, 29640 Málaga, Spain
2Biogeography, Diversity, and Conservation Research Team, Department of Animal Biology, University of Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain

Received 29 August 2013; Accepted 26 December 2013; Published 10 February 2014

Academic Editors: R. Bastida and O. Pantos

Copyright © 2014 José C. Báez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent studies showed that regional abundance of loggerhead and leatherback turtles could oscillate interannually according to oceanographic and climatic conditions. The Western Mediterranean is an important fishing area for the Spanish drifting longline fleet, which mainly targets swordfish, bluefin tuna, and albacore. Due to the spatial overlapping in fishing activity and turtle distribution, there is an increasing sea turtle conservation concern. The main goal of this study is to analyse the interannual bycatch of loggerhead and leatherback turtles by the Spanish Mediterranean longline fishery and to test the relationship between the total turtle by-catch of this fishery and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). During the 14 years covered in this study, the number of sea turtle bycatches was 3,940 loggerhead turtles and 8 leatherback turtles, 0.499 loggerhead turtles/1000 hooks and 0.001014 leatherback turtles/1000 hooks. In the case of the loggerhead turtle the positive phase of the NAO favours an increase of loggerhead turtles in the Western Mediterranean Sea. However, in the case of leatherback turtle the negative phase of the NAO favours the presence of leatherback turtle. This contraposition could be related to the different ecophysiological response of both species during their migration cycle.