Loggerhead Turtle

Informational Poster

Habitat and Scientific Name

Scientific name: Caretta caretta

Habitat: Loggerhead turtles spend most of their lives in the open ocean and in shallow coastal waters. Adults and juveniles live along the continental shelf. Loggerheads rarely go to the shore, other than females' brief visits to construct nests and deposit eggs. The loggerhead turtle is usually found in the northwestern region of Atlantic Ocean (Campbell, 2015). Picture source: http://www.wallpapersdb.org/animals/loggerhead-turtle-wallpaper-2598.htm

Physical Characteristics

Hatchlings range in color from light brown to black. Adults are reddish-brown and have a slightly heart shaped shell with a pale yellowish color on the bottom of the shell. Hatchlings measure about 4 cm and weigh around 20g while adults measure about 3 feet and weigh around 250 pounds (Bolton, 2014). Picture source: http://animalscamp.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/loggerhead-turtle-4.jpg
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Special abilities/significance

Loggerheads are currently considered endangered by the IUCN (Marine Turtle Specialist Group, 1996). Loggerhead turtles have large heads and powerful jaws, therefore they are able to eat hard substances such as hard-shelled prey. The significance of these turtles is evident when they break down the fragments of their prey's shells. When the loggerhead forages, it spreads around the fragments of their prey's shell and the shell fragments disintegrate faster thus increasing the rate of nutrient recycling in the benthic or open ocean ecosystems. Also, when foraging, loggerheads leave paths in the sand and these paths naturally affect the compaction, aeration, and nutrition distribution of the sediment (Wilson, Miller, Allison, and Magliocca, 2006).

Reproduction and Niche

Reproduction: Females loggerhead first reproduce between the ages of 17 and 33, their mating period lasts around six weeks. When a male first attempts to mount a female for reproduction, the female resists. The male and female then begin to circle each other and other males join in to fight for the female. The winner gets to reproduce with the female loggerhead. When nesting, female loggerheads produce an average of 3.9 egg clutches and then don't produce eggs for 2 to 3 years (Bolton, 2014).

Niche: Loggerheads have a very diverse diet and eat many different kinds of organisms. Loggerheads feed on hard-shelled prey such as whelks and conch, but they also feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates such as gastropods, sponges, bivalves, decapods, and many more organisms. Egg and nestling predators include: ghost crabs, snakes, and rats. Male loggerheads are rarely attacked due to their size, but they can be preyed on by large sharks, seals, and killer whales (Bolton, 2014).

Works Cited:

Bolton, A. (2014, December 15). Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/loggerhead.htm

Campbell, D. (2015, January 1). Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) - Information on Loggerhead Sea Turtle - Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://eol.org/pages/1056566/overview

Marine Turtle Specialist Group. (1996). Caretta caretta: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from www.iucnredlist.org

Wilsom, E., Miller, K., Allison, D., & Magliocca, M. (2006, June 6). Why Healthy Oceans Need Sea Turtles. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/Why_Healthy_Oceans_Need_Sea_Turtles.pdf