Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Close up :)
Gliding across the ocean floor
Gliding across the ocean floor
ROLE IN ECOSYSTEM
The turtles carry around barnacles, algae, and epibionts which provide food for fish and shrimp. Since the sea turtles have outstretched limbs and a raised head, they expose their bodies. This allows fish and shrimp to eat the barnacles, algae, and epibionts off of the turtle's body.
Female loggerhead sea turtles return to the beach where they hatched to lay their own eggs. Unfortunately, these sea turtle eggs are a food source for many small animals including sea gulls, raccoons, and possums,
Since loggerheads break up shells while feeding, they allow these shells to disintegrate at a faster pace. This quickens the nutrient recycling in the benthic (very bottom) layer of the ocean.
Food web picture: www.loggerhead-turtles.weebly.com
Loggerhead sea turtles are in the 3rd trophic level.
This is due to many factors:
- coastal development
- climate change
- predation of nests
- human disturbances
- incidental capture
- habitat degradation
The coastal development and human disturbances go together. Because of the development near the nesting areas, the newly hatched loggerheads confuse city lights with the moon, therefore getting off track and never making it to the ocean.
Pollution is a another major factor, also caused by humans. Sea turtles mistake trash in the ocean for food and often choke to death after attempting to eat it.
The predation of nests is a naturally occuring factor. As stated before, loggerhead sea turtle eggs provide food for many small animals on beaches.
Incidental capture occurs most during longline fishing and bycatch. Before the introduction of TEDs, approximately 50,000 loggerhead sea turtles were killed in shrimp nets in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean.
Habitat degradation is slowly becoming more of an issue. This is due to the loss of suitable nesting beaches as well as the introduction of exotic predators, causing the ecosystem to go out of it's normal routine.
In the United States, loggerheads are listed as threatened, or likely to become endangered and in danger of extinction within the near future.
Internationally, loggerheads are listed as endangered, which means they are facing a high risk of extinction within the near future.
Either way, Loggerhead Sea Turtles are not going to be around for much longer if nothing is done to prevent their extinction.
CAN HUMANS HELP?
There have been many Sea Turtle Protection Programs put into place recently. Many of these programs require volunteers to walk along the beach looking for sea turtle nests, tape the nesting areas off once they find one, as well as help direct the newly hatched sea turtles to the ocean.
Humans can also help by preventing the pollution of the oceans. Make sure when you go to the beach that no trash gets left in the water. There are also beach clean-ups that require a lot of volunteer participation in order to prevent any marine animals from choking on plastic or trash left behind.
Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Area picture: www.nerrs.noaa.gov
Websites Used for Information
ONCE YOU'VE COMPLETED THE FORM...
1. C) predominantly carnivores
2. B) in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans
3. B) largest
4. B) barnacles, algae, and epibionts
5. C) 3rd