Newly described nesting sites of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the central Red Sea

Kirsty Scott*, Lyndsey K. Tanabe, Jeffrey D. Miller, Michael L. Berumen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background. There is relatively little published information about sea turtle nesting distribution and seasonality in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea. Upcoming large-scale developments occurring along the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast could negatively affect many sea turtle nesting beaches with potential impacts on the survival of local populations. Methods. In 2019, two coastal beaches and three near-shore islands were surveyed for turtle nesting in the central Red Sea. We recorded all emergences, examined beach morphology, and collected sand samples to determine grain size, moisture content and colour. Results. Sea turtle nesting was found at all surveyed sites, though emergence counts were often low. The limited occurrence of nesting at several previously undocumented sites suggests that nesting activity may be widespread, but sparsely distributed, in the central Red Sea region. In addition, nesting at novel sites appeared to favour the seaward side of islands, a pattern that was not observed in previously documented areas. The substrate of most surveyed sites was composed of calcium carbonate with Ras Baridi as the only exception; it was composed of dark quartz-rich sediment. This study highlights several important sea turtle rookeries while also demonstrating that low levels of nesting occur throughout the region, although inter-annual nesting patterns still need to be determined. Future developments should be steered away from key nesting areas and the seaward bias in marginal rookeries should be taken into account where possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13408
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through baseline funding to Michael L. Berumen. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2022 Scott et al.


  • Marine conservation
  • Nesting beach
  • Red Sea
  • Sea turtles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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