Beyond fishing: loggerhead turtle impalement by swordfish

Authors

  • Fernando N. Fiedler Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação da Biodiversidade Marinha do Sudeste e Sul (CEPSUL), Avenida Carlos Ely Castro 195 Centro, 88301-445 - Itajaí, Brazil
  • Gilberto Sales Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Tartarugas Marinhas e da Biodiversidade Marinha do Leste (Centro TAMAR/ICMBio), 88061-160 - Florianópolis, Brazil
  • Rodrigo Barreto Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação da Biodiversidade Marinha do Sudeste e Sul (CEPSUL), Avenida Carlos Ely Castro 195 Centro, 88301-445 - Itajaí, Brazil
  • Caiame J. Nascimento Independent researcher, 42830-034 - Camaçari, Brazil
  • Bruno B. Giffoni Fundação Centro Brasileiro de Proteção e Pesquisa das Tartarugas Marinhas (Fundação Projeto Tamar), 11688-670 - Ubatuba, Brazil

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47193/mafis.3612023010102

Keywords:

Sea turtle, incidental capture, species interaction, fisheries, Southwestern Atlantic Ocean

Abstract

Sea turtles are susceptible to a wide range of impacts. In Brazil, the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758) is the main sea turtle species caught incidentally by longline fishing fleets that target the blue shark Prionace glauca (Linnaeus, 1758) and swordfish Xiphias gladius (Linnaeus, 1758). The latter is well known for its predation strategy, which consists of using the rostrum to injure and catch prey. In this study, we recorded for the first time the impalement of a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle by a swordfish during a fishing operation of a Brazilian longline vessel in 2018. Two videos of this interaction were recorded by the shipmaster around 260 km from the Brazilian coast. The sea turtle was incidentally caught with a hook and subsequently attacked by the swordfish. The rostrum initially pierced the anterior left shoulder of the turtle and passed through the body, exiting from the right posterior carapace. Given the position of the attack, considerable internal damage was most certainly done to the turtle. Although the turtle was hauled aboard to remove the hook and then returned to the sea alive, it probably died due to the extent of the injuries caused by the rostrum having passed through the center of the body. Since both swordfish and turtle are pelagic and these interactions are poorly recorded, such encounters may be relatively common. Therefore, this type of information should be included in the data collection protocols of fishery monitoring programs to better understand and scale the bill-stab phenomenon, not only for sea turtles but also in relation to other groups of fauna.

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Author Biographies

Fernando N. Fiedler, Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação da Biodiversidade Marinha do Sudeste e Sul (CEPSUL), Avenida Carlos Ely Castro 195 Centro, 88301-445 - Itajaí, Brazil

Gilberto Sales, Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Tartarugas Marinhas e da Biodiversidade Marinha do Leste (Centro TAMAR/ICMBio), 88061-160 - Florianópolis, Brazil

Rodrigo Barreto, Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação da Biodiversidade Marinha do Sudeste e Sul (CEPSUL), Avenida Carlos Ely Castro 195 Centro, 88301-445 - Itajaí, Brazil

Caiame J. Nascimento, Independent researcher, 42830-034 - Camaçari, Brazil

Bruno B. Giffoni, Fundação Centro Brasileiro de Proteção e Pesquisa das Tartarugas Marinhas (Fundação Projeto Tamar), 11688-670 - Ubatuba, Brazil

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Published

2022-08-30

How to Cite

Fiedler, F. N. ., Sales, G., Barreto, R., Nascimento, C. J. and Giffoni, B. B. (2022) “Beyond fishing: loggerhead turtle impalement by swordfish”, Marine and Fishery Sciences (MAFIS), 36(1), pp. 5–16. doi: 10.47193/mafis.3612023010102.