Adult sex ratios of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in two Mediterranean foraging grounds


  • Paolo Casale Department of Biology and Biotechnologies “Charles Darwin”, University of Rome “La Sapienza” - Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter
  • Daniela Freggi Sea Turtle Rescue Centre WWF Italy
  • Fulvio Maffucci Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn - Dipartimento di Scienze” Università Roma Tre
  • Sandra Hochscheid Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn



Caretta caretta, sea turtle, adult, sex ratio, maturity, temperature-dependent sex determination, Mediterranean


Sea turtles show temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and information on sex ratios at different life stages is necessary both for population dynamics models for conservation and to shed light on the possible adaptive value of TSD. Adults represent the less abundant class of sea turtle populations and adult sex ratios at foraging grounds are very difficult to obtain. We first analysed biometric data of 460 juvenile and adult loggerhead sea turtles ranging from 60 to 97.5 cm curved carapace length (CCL), in which a clear bimodal distribution of tail length (the main secondary sexual character of adult males) was observed in the size class >75 cm CCL. We then sexed 142 adult turtles in this size class collected from the Tunisian shelf and from the southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea, observing a proportion of females of 51.5% (95% CI: 41.2-61.8%; n=97) and 40.0% (95% CI: 25.7-55.7%; n=45) respectively. Our results complement previous studies and support their findings of similar and more balanced sex ratios in adult and juvenile loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, in contrast with highly female-biased sex ratios of hatchlings.


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How to Cite

Casale P, Freggi D, Maffucci F, Hochscheid S. Adult sex ratios of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in two Mediterranean foraging grounds. scimar [Internet]. 2014Jun.30 [cited 2022Sep.27];78(2):303-9. Available from: