Scientific Name: Caretta caretta
Category: Sea Turtles
What is the Loggerhead Turtle and What Does it Look Like?
Loggerhead turtles are the largest population of sea turtles in the U.S. coastal waters. These creatures have a heart-shaped shell that is reddish-brown. The rest of its body is brown and yellow. They grow to be about 1 meter long and weigh about 115 kilograms. Loggerheads have large heads and strong powerful jaws that they use for crushing prey. As omnivores, loggerheads eat a variety of sea creatures. The type of food they eat depends on their location in the ocean.
Where Do Loggerhead Turtles Live and Breed and What Do They Eat?
Young juvenile turtles float in the open ocean, feeding floating foods: mats of Sargassum (a type of seaweed), jellyfish, and algae. Adults and older juveniles live closer to the coast and their diet is more varied and includes clams, lobster, muscles, horseshoe crabs, and sponges.
Loggerhead turtles live worldwide throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Adult loggerhead turtles migrate far distance between their feeding areas and nesting beaches, some as far as 4,800 kilometers. Loggerhead turtles travel to warm water near the equator to avoid the cold winter temperatures.
In the early summer months, loggerhead turtles begin mating. Adult female turtles return to the same beach each year to build a nest and lay her eggs. Male turtles never leave the ocean. A female will lay eggs every 12-17 days during the breeding season and will lay between 110 and 130 eggs in each nest. Once incubated, the hatchling sea turtles emerge from the nest and scramble towards the water, trying to avoid predators such as sea birds, raccoons, crabs, and other hungry beach dwellers.
What are Some Threats to the Loggerhead Population?
Despite their large numbers, the loggerhead turtle population is declining due to human impacts. The greatest threat to loggerheads is commercial fishing gear. Turtles can get caught in gillnets, longlines, shrimp trawls, and traps. Other threats include development along coasts, pollutants such as oil and pesticides, and nest disturbance by humans and other animals.
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