Subjects: Turtles, Research Article, Earth Sciences, Freshwater Environments, Reptiles, Latitude, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Natural Disasters, Ocean Temperature, Atmospheric Science, Marine Biology, Marine and Aquatic Sciences, Geography, Animals, Aquatic Environments, Biology and Life Sciences, Hydrology, Tornadoes, Meteorology, Marine Environments, Medicine, Flooding, Reefs, Cartography, Testudines, Vertebrates, Amniotes, Q, R, Coral Reefs, Science, Oceanography, Organisms, Fresh Water, Wind
Globally, tropical and subtropical regions have experienced an increased frequency and intensity in extreme weather events, ranging from severe drought to protracted rain depressions and cyclones, these coincided with an increased number of marine turtles subsequently reported stranded. This study investigated the relationship between environmental variables and marine turtle stranding. The environmental variables examined in this study, in descending order of importance, were freshwater discharge, monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall for the latitudinal hotspots (-27°, -25°, -23°, -19°) along the Queensland coast as well as for major embayments within these blocks. This study found that marine turtle strandings can be linked to these environmental variables at different lag times (3-12 months), and that cumulative (months added together for maximum lag) and non-cumulative (single month only) effects cause different responses. Different latitudes also showed different responses of marine turtle strandings, both in response direction and timing.Cumulative effects of freshwater discharge in all latitudes resulted in increased strandings 10-12 months later. For latitudes -27°, -25° and -23° non-cumulative effects for discharge resulted in increased strandings 7-12 months later. Latitude -19° had different results for the non-cumulative bay with strandings reported earlier (3-6 months). Monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall had varying results for each examined latitude. This study will allow first responders and resource managers to be better equipped to deal with increased marine turtle stranding rates following extreme weather events.