Loggerhead turtle

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Scientific name

Caretta caretta

Family

Cheloniidae

Size

200 to 350 pounds 2.5 to 3.5 feet

Lifespan

Unknown, but estimated to be 70 years or more

Did you know?

Loggerhead turtles are hosts to more than 100 species of marine hitchhiking plants and animals that live on the shells of the turtles. These ‘epibionts’ include representative taxa from almost every Phylum within the Kingdom Animalia! Because loggerheads are highly migratory, they help to disperse the animals to different areas, and the types of epibionts found on sea turtles can tell us about regions and habitats where host turtles spend much of their time.

About Loggerhead turtles

Named for their large heads, loggerhead turtles have powerful jaws that are designed to crush hard prey. After hatching, the turtles spend the first 7 to 15 years of their lives in the open ocean. As they approach maturity, loggerheads move into nearshore coastal areas to forage and grow for several more years. Adults migrate hundreds to thousands of kilometers from their foraging grounds to the nesting beaches. Unlike reef-associated hawksbill and green turtles, you are unlikely to see many loggerheads while snorkeling or diving around coral reefs year-round. However, during the mating and nesting season in early spring and summer months, large males are common fixtures in the waters around nesting beaches. It is best to give them a wide berth during this time, lest you be mistaken for a female turtle.

Diet

Loggerhead turtles are carnivores. During their early-life oceanic phase, they eat mostly floating organisms, whereas larger juveniles and adults feed on benthic animals such as whelks, other mollusks, horseshoe crabs, and other crustaceans.

Distribution

The loggerhead turtle can be found world-wide in subtropical and temperate regions of the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. Adult female sea turtles return to land to lay their eggs in the sand, usually at a beach in the general area where they themselves hatched decades earlier.

Fun facts

  • The sex of turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand when the eggs are incubating. Cooler temperatures produce males and warmer temperatures produce females.

Loggerhead turtle photo gallery

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