Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Species: C. caretta
Common Names: Loggerhead Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead turtles are found throughout the world’s temperate and tropical oceans. They spend their time swimming through the ocean, never coming ashore except to make their nests and lay their eggs.
Loggerheads eat a variety of prey, including crabs, lobsters, horseshoe crabs, sea anemones, starfish, jellyfish, squid, and flying fish. Their beaks and powerful jaws help them to crush the shells of their prey.
Like other sea turtle species, the loggerhead leaves the sea in order to construct its nest and lay its eggs. They usually return to the beach where they hatched, dig a pit in the sand, and then deposit the eggs within. They then bury the eggs and head back to the sea.
After about 80 days, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings must dig through the sand and make their way to the ocean. This typically happens at night. The newly hatched turtles scurry toward the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water, and artificial light can sometimes confuse turtles into going the wrong way.
The journey to the sea is very perilous, and many young turtles may fall victim to predation from seabirds, crabs, foxes and other predators. Once they reach the sea, hatchlings will often conceal themselves amongst a floating seaweed called sargassum to help avoid predators.
The loggerhead sea turtle is the second largest living turtle, after the leatherback turtle. It’s the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world today, just edging out the green sea turtle and the Galapagos tortoise.
Loggerhead turtles can way over 400 pounds, though in extreme cases may weigh over 1,000 pounds. The turtle’s shell, or carapace, usually measures three feet in length in adults, although extraordinarily large individuals can have shells measuring nearly seven feet long.
Like other sea turtles, the loggerhead has adapted to have flippers instead feet. These flippers allow them to swim through their marine environment with ease.
The loggerhead is usually reddish brown in coloration.
The loggerhead sea turtle is the state reptile of South Carolina, and the state saltwater reptile of Florida. It is also featured on the 1000 peso coin of Colombia.
It is believed sea turtles evolved and broke off from other turtles during the Cretaceous Period. Cheloniidae, the family that includes all living sea turtles except for the leatherback, appeared around 40 million years ago.