Green turtles of Mauritania
The Banc d'Arguin National Park, Mauritania, is a key foraging site for West African green turtles
The Banc d’Arguin National Park (PNBA) on the Mauritanian coast is a jewel in West Africa’s conservation crown. The park comprises sand dunes, mudflats, sand banks, seagrass meadows, small islands and shallow coastal waters. It has an abundance of life, sheltering over two million wintering shorebirds (Lourenço et al. 2016). It is also home for several shark and ray species, dolphins and sea turtles. It has potentially the largest aggregation of immature green turtles in Africa, but key aspects, such as the origin of these turtles, are unknown.
In 2018 seven green turtles were tracked from the main African rookery at Poilão Island, Bijagós, to the PNBA. In March 2019 we conducted a field mission to visit the foraging sites used by these turtles in Mauritanian coastal waters. With the participation of the PNBA, IMROP - Mauritania, IBAP - Guinea-Bissau, ISPA - Portugal, the University of Exeter and local fishers we conducted in-water surveys of marine turtles.
This mission to the PNBA and previous studies conducted at the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau, highlight that both sites are fundamental elements of the range of the largest green turtle population in West Africa. Given the migratory nature of this species it is important that threats, especially direct and incidental catch in both artisanal and industrialised fisheries, be assessed throughout the region. 3.Research recommendations should feed into a regional management plan.