Loggerhead Turtle - Caretta caretta
Status: Endangered … As many as 100 species of animal have been found living on one Loggerhead turtle’s shell
Location: Most of the Earth’s oceans, including the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic. Most common sea turtle in the Mediterranean and is highly migratory, travelling very far in its life.
Size: Adult size 4 - 5 feet long on average.
Habitat: Open ocean.
The problems facing loggerheads are widespread and varied, threatening them right from when they hatch to old age. Hatchlings struggle to find the ocean on highly developed beachfronts as the light from buildings can encourage them to come inland as opposed to out to sea. This makes it easier for predators to pick them off and as the night passes, hatchlings can dehydrate and die under the heat of the sun. Other coastal developments such as coastal armouring and sea walls have made certain nesting sites obsolete.
Once in the ocean, loggerheads can get accidentally caught in fishing gear such as nets and long-lines. While loggerheads can dive for up to 45 minutes, the stress of being entangled underwater can cause them to panic and drown. Another risk is pollution – litter washes out to sea and, particularly plastic bags, can be mistaken by loggerheads for food, such as jellyfish. In some parts of the world, loggerheads are hunted for their meat, while their eggs are collected for food. As loggerheads reach sexual maturity fairly late in life and only nest once every two to three years, negative impacts on their population can be devastating and slow to recover.
Did you know?
- Loggerheads have been known to migrate great distances. One satellite-tracked turtle migrated from feeding grounds in Mexico’s waters across the Pacific Ocean to nesting beaches in Japan - a distance of over 11,500km!
- Loggerheads have incredibly strong jaws, powerful enough to crush crabs, clams and other seemingly impenetrable sea creatures such as the Queen conch.
- Loggerheads can themselves can become a habitat. Loggerheads carry more sea creatures on their shells than any other sea turtle. These include barnacles and as many as 100 species of animal have been found living on one loggerhead turtle.
What MCS is doing:
- Turtle conservation in UK Overseas Territories - liaising closely with Government and fishers, MCS work has resulted in the banning of loggerhead capture in the Turks and Caicos Islands this year;
- Recording and monitoring turtle sightings in the UK;
- Reducing marine litter that can cause entanglement;
- Campaigning to reduce the use of plastic bags in the UK.