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Loggerhead Sea Turtles

turtle hatchlings

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

The Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is the only member of the genus Caretta. The genus name "Caretta" is a latinization of the French "caret," meaning turtle, tortoise, or sea turtle.

It is characterized by a large head with blunt jaws. It is also identifiable by the five scutes along the side of the carapace. Adults grow to an average weight of about 200 pounds (91 kg) for females and 375 pounds (170 kg) for males. The species feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and other marine animals, which they crush with their large and powerful jaws. Loggerhead females, like other sea turtles, return to lay their eggs on or near the same beach where they hatched. Unlike other sea turtles, courtship and mating usually do not take place near the nesting beach, but rather along the migration routes between feeding and breeding grounds.

Loggerheads mate from late March to early June. The nesting season is at its peak in June and July in South Carolina. The clutch may vary from 80 to 160 eggs. The average interval between nesting seasons is two to three years.

Loggerhead hatchlings spend the first twelve years of life in the open ocean. They hide among sargassum weed rafts drifting in the currents.

The near shore waters are the main foraging habitat for adult loggerheads. Most loggerheads that reach adulthood live for 60 to 80 years.

Two subspecies are recognized: Caretta Caretta gigas is found in the Indian and Pacific oceans and C. caretta caretta, the Atlantic Loggerhead, also found in the Greek islands and the rest of the Mediterranean Sea.


The Loggerhead sea turtle was once intensively hunted for its meat and eggs, along with their fat which was used in cosmetics and medication. As a result both subspecies are now internationally protected. Under the Endangered Species Act the Loggerhead is the only sea turtle listed as threatened instead of endangered. Today the main threat to the species is loss of nesting habitat to development of prime nesting beaches. Many loggerheads fall victim to commercial fishing like shrimp trawling and long lining annually. Pollution of the ocean thru careless dumping of plastic trash and dumping of used motor oil takes its toll on loggerhead turtles. Many national and International groups are dedicated to preserving sea turtle populations.

momma turtle heading back to sea
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia.
The original content was at Loggerhead Sea Turtle.
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2013 Loggerhead Turtle Season
The Turtle Patrol will keep you informed about this year's nesting season with stories and photos.