Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Tortuga Caguama)
These beautiful sea turtles are named for their oversized heads that look like a big log. Their jaws are so strong and powerful that they can easily crush their prey consisting mostly of shellfish species.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles live in all oceans worldwide except for frigid waters. As Loggerheads are highly migratory and travel thousands of miles across the oceans, incidental capture in commercial fishing nets, trawls and long-lines causing serious injuries and often their death is one of the major threats these ancient creatures face. Loss of their nesting areas due to coastal development as well as predation of nests and marine pollution are other serious problems for Loggerhead Sea Turtles.
Their numbers are constantly declining and today only an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 nesting females are still around. Loggerhead Sea Turtles are internationally considered as endangered (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future) by the IUCN Red List in 2013.
About 4% of the nests in and around Cancun belong to the Loggerhead species. In 2015 370 nests with 41,876 eggs were recorded.
Let’s hope that we can protect most of the nests in and around Cancun and release lots of Loggerhead hatchlings this year.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Facts
- Large head with powerful jaws
- Heart shaped shell
- Thick front flippers with 2 claws
- Color of the head and carapace (top shell) range from yellow-orange to reddish-brown
- Underside of the shell (called plastron) is pale yellow
- Adults: length of 0.9 m to 1.20 m (3 to 4 ft.) with an average weight of 150 kg (330 lbs.)
- Hatchlings: length of 2.5 cm (less than an inch) with a weight of approx. 15 g (around 0.5 ounce)
- Inhabit the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea
- Spend their first years at the open sea
- Older juveniles and adults prefer to feed in coastal bays, lagoons, creeks, as well as in the shallow water
- Loggerhead are meat eater and have the most varied diet of all sea turtles
- Preferred are shellfish such as conches, mussels, horseshoe crabs, clams and sea urchins which they easily crush with their powerful jaws.
- They also eat jellyfish, squid, fish, sponges, algae and seaweed.
- An estimated 50 years and more
- Loggerheads reach sexually maturity between the ages of 20 and 30 years
- Reproduce every 2 to 4 years
- Lay an average of 4 clutches of eggs per season
- Mating along their migration routes between feeding and breeding grounds
- Females come ashore to nest (mainly their own nesting beach)
- Digging a pit in the sand and depositing 80 to 120 ping pong ball sized eggs into the nest
- Covering the nest with sand and returning to the sea
- Incubation period approx. 60 days
- After hatching baby turtles immediately head to the sea
- Nesting season in the Caribbean is from May to July
- Natural predators are mainly sharks, seals and killer whales
- Eggs and hatchlings fall victim to seabirds, crabs, lizards, iguanas, snakes, prefacious fish and small marine mammals
Human induced threats include:
- Incidental capture in long-line fishing and shrimp trawling
- Loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development
- Predation of nests
- Human disturbances (such as coastal lighting and housing developments) cause disorientations during the hatch
- As many as 100 species of animals and plants have been recorded living on one single loggerhead turtle. That’s more than any other marine turtles species.