ABOUT THE LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Caretta caretta

DIET: Omnivores. Jellyfish, molluscs, conchs, crabs, and even fish. They will eat seaweed and sargassum occasionally.

CLASS: Reptiles

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 50 or more years

CONSERVATION STATUS: Threatened

SIZE: 190 cm    WEIGHT: 160 kg

CURRENT POPULATION TREND: Decreasing.

The worldwide population is not known, but scientists studying nesting sites are seeing a decrease. Unfortunately, populations of loggerheads have been on the threatened species list since 1978.

 

THE AMAZING life cycle of a LOGGERHEAD sea turtle

Loggerhead sea turtle can live up to 50 years. Most are born on the sandy beaches of Florida. They never meet their parents and hatch from a damp hole in the sand, digging upwards with their siblings. As they emerge, they crawl towards the waves, making a perilous journey across the beach.

Once at sea, young sea turtles are carried by ocean currents into patches of seaweed in the Sargasso Sea. Here, they thrive on the floating rafts of Sargassum seaweed, which can stretch for miles across the ocean. The floating refuge provides food and shelter and the turtles can happily float about here for ten to fifteen years. Until one day, they feel strong enough to stop drifting and start swimming. Some will head West towards the Mediterranean Sea for the next stage of their life. Spots like the Mediterranean can become the sea turtles preferred feeding areas.

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Loggerhead turtles spend most of their lives in open waters, riding ocean currents. As they swim in the open ocean, they feed on jellyfish, floating molluscs, egg clusters, squid and flying fish. Loggerhead turtles can cross the ocean several times during their lives. Their shells can act as an “oasis” for fish out in the open ocean. They become encrusted with algae and barnacles during long trans-oceanic journeys, they also attract schools of small fish and even larger pelagic species, like tuna. These provide a temporary haven for open water species and make sea turtles a valuable part of the oceanic ecosystem. Thanks to new tagging technologies, we are only now beginning to learn where these turtles go and what they do.

The turtles mate at sea and return to the same beach where they hatched to nest, even if it’s thousands of miles from their preferred feeding areas. As they approach shallower coastal waters, they use their powerful jaws to break open clams, lobsters and other shellfish.The females go to shore, dig a burrow in the sand and lay 100-120 eggs each time. After a few weeks, the baby hatchlings emerge from the nest and enter the water together, starting the cycle again.

 

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION

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Because of their exceptional lifestyles, the conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle requires conservation efforts without borders. The US Fish and Wildlife department has invested over 30 years of conservation efforts, with an average of one million dollars a year, into the protection of the loggerhead sea turtle nesting sites. As the turtles travel across the continent, it’s important for the protection of the species to cross the oceans along with them. This is why our alliance with NOAA and the US Fish and Wildlife's Marine Turtle Conservation Fund is so important. Since 2005, we’ve worked to reduce by-catch by over 95% and are currently focusing on the dangers of marine litter and its impact on the loggerhead sea turtle. 

Find out more about our conservation work with sea turtles here.

Click on the turtle to ADOPT A TURTLE and help us conserve the loggerhead sea turtle.