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Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Caretta caretta

Fast Facts

  • Egg temperature determines whether baby turtles will be male or female.
  • Unlike land tortoises and turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their heads into the shell.
  • Scientists can get an idea of a turtle’s age by reading the annulus or rings formed by the growth of the scutes of their shell.
  • The loggerhead is the only living species in the genus Caretta.

range

Range

Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans

Habitat

Coastal habitats

Size

Three feet in length, weighing up to 250 pounds

Nutrition

Show crabs, mollusks, crustaceans, clams, mussels, jellies, and seaweed


Characteristics


This sea turtle is easy to identify by its reddish-brown color and massive head. Youngsters are brown with lighter edges on the underside. The front and back flippers have two claws. The carapace (top shell) has five lateral scutes (plates) and the plastron (bottom shell) has three inframarginal scutes which connect it to the carapace.

Behavior


During their active period, Loggerheads move from their nest to the surf, swimming away for several days. Post-hatching Loggerheads take up residence in areas where surface waters converge to form local down-wellings. These areas are often characterized by accumulations of floating material, such as seaweed. They are common between the Gulf Stream and the Southeast U.S. coast and between the Loop Current and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Here they become low-energy float-and-wait foragers that feed on a wide variety of drifting items.

Reproduction


Loggerhead sea turtles reach sexual maturity between 17 and 33 years. Females only reproduce every two to three years. Loggerheads mate in offshore waters near beach nesting areas. The females come onto the beaches at night, digging their nests above the high-tide mark. They lay three to six nests with over 100 eggs per nest. The eggs incubate for nearly 60 days. Loggerhead offspring can display multiple paternity because females are capable of storing sperm from multiple males until ovulation.

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