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Green Sea Turtle
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
- Pacific loggerheads migrate over 7,500 miles) between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the coast of Mexico
- Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads,
- Loggerheads are the most abundant species of sea turtle found in U.S. coastal waters
- Largest hard-shelled turtle in the world
- Life span is at least 30 years and up to 50 years or more.
- Most loggerhead deaths occur due to drowning in shrimp nets, as well as due to longline fishing practices.
- As many as 100 species of animals and plants have been recorded living on one single loggerhead turtle
- From hatchling to adult, a loggerhead increases its weight more than 6000 times!
- A female loggerhead tracked at sea made up to 500 dives every 12 hours.
This species is the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. The Loggerhead’s name was derived from its overly large head that is comprised of a horny beak, which is significantly thicker than in other sea turtles. They have powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. The carapace is slightly heart-shaped and reddish-brown /rusty in color. Their front flippers contain two claws. The length of adults is approximately three to four feet, and they can weigh from 170– 500 pounds.
Habitat, Migration and Nesting
Loggerheads migrate great distances and are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Argentina to Nova Scotia. The highest populations in North America are found on barrier islands from North Carolina to the Florida Keys. Their primary habitat is in southeastern United States ranging southward to South America and extending eastward to Africa and the Mediterranean as well as areas of the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya. Like other sea turtles, it is believed the Loggerheads have an ability to use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate across open oceans. Loggerheads nest on ocean beaches, generally preferring high energy, relatively narrow, steeply sloped, coarse-grained beaches
Females reach maturity around 35 years old and it is thought that they return to their natal beach, the same beach where they were born, to lay their eggs. Their clutch size is usually 100 or more eggs.
Vital to the Ecosystem
According to WWW, ‘Loggerhead turtles eat many types of invertebrates, in particular mollusks and crustaceans, and can change the seabed by “mining” the sediments for their favorite prey. Also, loggerhead turtles carry veritable animal and plant cities on their shell. As many as 100 species of animals and plants have been recorded living on a single Loggerhead turtle. These animals and plants depend on turtles to have somewhere to live and to prosper. The future for many of these species is intimately linked to marine turtle survival”.
Threats to the Survival of Loggerheads
Like all sea turtles, they are in danger in the oceans and also on beaches. Their nests are often lost to predators such as dogs, crabs, sea birds and ants as well as to shoreline erosion. Hatchlings are preyed upon by mammals, sea birds, crabs and carnivorous fish. Sharks and other large fish remain formidable predators to Loggerheads and all other sea turtle species throughout their entire life cycle. Loggerheads’ life span can range from 30 years to 50 years or more.
Loggerheads are listed as “Threatened” on the Endangered Species Act, as well as with the IUCN Red List. Most deaths occur due to drowning in shrimp nets or as a result of longline fishing practices. Like all turtle species, human predation and harvesting is a serious threat to their survival: Loggerhead eggs and meat are sold on the black market for consumption and their shells are used to make items such as boat paddles.
The total Loggerhead population is currently estimated at about 60,000.
We gratefully acknowledge the following resources:
Lucy Hawkes c/o Marine Turtle Research Group for her photograph the loggerhead hatchlings photo from www.seaturtle.org image library.
Marco Giuliano/ Fondazione Cetacea, photo of loggerhead swimming photo found.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/3897/summ
Kids corner of NOAA http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/education/kids_times_turtle_loggerhead.pdf
NOAA Fisheries http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/loggerhead.htm