The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta) derives its strange name from its disproportionately large head. Their carapace is reddish -brown and somewhat heart-shaped, while its plastron is a light yellowish color. Adults grow to an average of 36 inches and weigh between 200-250 lbs at maturity.This species diet consists of fish, mollusks , jellyfish, crabs,and other marine animals. The loggerhead sea turtle is named as the state reptile of South Carolina.
Loggerhead sea turtle facts include that they are the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. They are also the most plentiful of sea turtles in the United States, although they are considered an endangered species. The loggerhead has scales within their flippers that provide traction, and enable them to “walk” along the ocean floor. Other interesting loggerhead sea turtle facts include that they mate along their migratory routes and not near their nesting beaches as with other marine turtles.
Loggerhead sea habitat consists of coastal tropical and subtropic waters. Loggerheads will travel into more temperate waters in their search for food. In the United States they may be found in highest density in the regions between North Carolina and Florida. Loggerheads are found within the warmer waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. These marine turtles will occupy all but the more frigid of waters and although they prefer the coastal areas will travel hundreds of miles out into the more open sea. Nesting occurs primarily in Oman, the U.S. and Australia- accounting for almost 80% of nesting habitat. Loggerhead sea turtle habitat reaches as far south as Chile- and as far north as Alaska!
Loggerhead sea turtle endangered status is telling in that although they are considered the most abundant within the U.S. They are still a threatened species. Human intervention is necessary to reestablish their once plentiful numbers. Current threats to loggerheads include shrimp trawls, fishing nets and boat propellers, as well as the pollution, and development of their nesting areas. Sea turtle rescue centers have been helpful in conservation efforts, and patrols, such as the Fripp Island , SC Turtle Patrol which patrol nesting sights and aid in the hatchlings making it out into the sea. Perhaps with these and other efforts there will come a day when we wont label the loggerhead sea turtle endangered.
Baby loggerhead sea turtles hatch after a 60 day incubation period. Once they hatch they immediately start to crawl as quickly as they can to the ocean – away from the more plentiful dangers on land. Born with the ability to swim, they then swim out into the sea where the ocean current helps them reach the Sargasso Sea. These babies then spend their early years among the Sargassum (seaweed) floating among the ocean’s surface. A baby loggerhead sea turtle does not come ashore.
The loggerhead sea turtle population has declined due to human actions. At one time humans hunted them for their meat, and their eggs, as well as their shells. Classified as endangered presently by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, it is illegal to now hunt loggerheads. However, illegal hunting still occurs ad other threats- like the destruction of their habitat continue to keep the once thriving numbers from returning. International efforts must be made to restore the once healthy loggerhead sea turtle population.