Name: Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Average Weight: 155 - 375 pounds
Average Size: 2.5 - 3.5 feet
Lifespan in the Wild: 50 years (at least)
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Population: Estimated that there are 40,000 and 50,000 nesting females. (According to Conserve Turtle)
General Information: These turtles are the most common sea turtle in the coastal waters of the USA. They are named for their large, hard head and strong jaws that can crack and crush hard-shelled prey. These sea turtles are referred to as a 'keystone species' because in their ecosystem other animals rely on them for survival.
The loggerhead sea turtle is primarily a carnivore. They use their strong jaws to crush hard shelled prey, such as clams, horseshoe crabs and mussels. As well as those tasty seafood snacks, loggerhead sea turtles also enjoy shrimp, jellyfish, sponges and other small fish.
Nesting Behaviours & Reproduction:
Female loggerhead turtles are thought to reach sexual maturity at age 35 years and they will often return to the beach where they hatched. The mating season starts in April through to September and the sea turtles will meet in the shallows to mate.
Females will nest every 2 - 4 years and will lay between 2 and 5 nests every 14 days. Each nest/ clutch will contain between 100 and 125 eggs. The eggs will incubate for about 60 days before the hatchlings emerge.
Habitat & Range:
These sea turtles are a wide-ranging species which can be found in the temperate and subtropical oceans around the world. They prefer coastal and shallow waters to feed and mate. Most loggerhead turtles are found nesting on US beaches and they are the most abundant sea turtle species in US waters.
Full grown loggerhead turtles are know to make incredible journeys across the oceans from where they will forage for food to their nesting beaches. Though they prefer to feed and mate in shallow waters, they can be found hundreds of miles out at sea.
Threats To The Species:
Loggerhead sea turtles face similar threats to other species of sea turtles from plastic pollution to rising sea temperatures. However, the biggest threat to the loggerheads is loss of nesting habitat.
Loss of Nesting Habitat:
Due to coastal developments lots of these sea turtles are at risk of losing their nesting beaches. Thankfully there are conservation efforts to ensure that crucial nesting locations are protected to preserve the future generation of these turtles.
Nesting mothers and emerging hatchlings can also be disorientated by artificial lighting from street lights and building near the beach.
Bycatch & Fishing Gear:
Fisheries are another big threat to loggerhead turtles. They can easily get caught in trawlers and other fishing equipment which leads to injury and often even death. To combat this, since 1987 commercial fisheries have been required to use turtle excluder devices to help sea turtles escape from fishing gear.
Plastic Pollution & Marine Debris:
Sea turtles are at risk from the ever growing amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. They can mistake pieces of plastic, plastic bags and other debris for food and if they ingest them it can result in death.