We know four male Hawaiian green turtles (honu) who can provide clues
regarding your question about male mating cycles. Just one
caveat. Because males are not tagged/marked in any way at their mating
grounds, their actual mating summer must be inferred by us.
Males who've completed migrations are easy to tell apart from non-mating
males at our dive site. Home turtles have shells fouled by
algae. Migrating males have spotless, polished algae-free shells. And
most migrating males arrive home plastron-shrunken skinny. Many arrive
with fresh injuries from bites (especially about the tail). Like I
said. Easy to infer.
Here are the four.
Nui known since 1990 first went to FFS in 1997 (we saw him arrive home that
season). Here's a pic of him all head-hanging tired with clean shell.
Nui was home for 98 and missing all summer 1999 (presumed at FFS). Back
for 2000 and also 2001. So Nui looks to be on a two/three year cycle.
Pi'i first went to FFS in 1997 (we saw his return --skinny, clean
shell...). He was also home all of 98, missing 99 but back for 2000 and
2001. Pi'i looks to be on a 2-3 year cycle.
Next. Another male, sighted 98, missing 99, back in 2000 and missing most
of Summer 2001 --a two year cycle. When he returned at the end of last
summer here's what he looked like. He swam straight towards us so you can
see his shrunken plastron.
But when he turned we were Shocked. Look at his shell. Yes, clean,
spotless --that "I've been out in open ocean" shell --but he'd clearly met
up with a large tiger shark. Fresh gouges.
And close up of shell.
(Life is pretty rough out there on that migration route)
And of course, then there's Zeus. Zeus "feels" and looks old as air. He's
the biggest turtle we've ever seen.
We've known Zeus since 1993 and he's been with us (green algae-fouled shell
and all) every summer since. He DOESN'T go to FFS.
We fully expect to see Zeus this summer on our first few dives. 2002 will
make ten summers he's stayed home.
So. These green males appear to be on a two/three year cycle. That
doesn't make them any different from the females at our dive
site. Two-year, sometimes three. A couple females (like males) even longer.
Note this particular group of turtles resides on Maui --one of the farthest
away Hawaiian islands from their FFS breeding grounds. So maybe males
closer up the island chain can make the trip more frequently --perhaps even
annually-- because their trip there-and-back isn't as long/taxing.
Hope this helps.
At 06:10 PM 6/18/02 -0600, Kim Pelechaty wrote:
>I sent out an earlier e-mail but I forgot to state one important fact. I
>was wondering if male green sea turtles mate every year or if they mate
>every 2, 3, or 4 years like the female. Thank you for your help.
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