Loggerhead sea turtle – Caretta caretta
The loggerhead sea turtle is a species in the family of sea turtles and is therefore part of the order of testudines. Caretta caretta is the most common species in its family and therefore provides the most research results on sea turtles.
Description, Anatomy & Characteristics
The shell of the loggerhead sea turtle is up to 110cm long and weighs about 110kg. However, the maximum weight is over 450kg.
Caretta caretta has a reddish brown basic colour. However, the belly part of the carapace of adult animals is yellow-brown. Their leathery, patterned skin is also striking.
Differences between males & females
The males have a longer tail and bigger, bent claws in contrast to the females. In addition, its belly-shell is shorter and the back-shell flattened and wider.
Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence
Caretta caretta lives in open water and on rocky, overgrown reefs. It can also be found on sandy areas or in crevices and small caves.
It is the most common species to be seen when scuba diving in the Canary Islands.
The loggerhead turtle can be found in all tropical and subtropical seas and oceans worldwide. This also includes the Mediterranean Sea. They are also sometimes found in temperate climates.
Feeding & Biology
Their maximum recorded age is 67 years.
Especially in young years or even before their birth they have some predators. Among them many nest robbers, like rats, bears, snakes or humans. Young turtles are eaten by birds, crustaceans, fish and moray eels. Adult animals have fewer predators due to their protective shell. For example, they are hunted by large sharks, killer whales or seals. About 40% of all egg laying females have wounds attributed to shark attacks.
Caretta caretta reaches sexual maturity between the ages of 17 and 30. Mating is usually done on the surface of the water. The females lay their eggs several times, in the distance of 12 to 23 days. A nest comprises in each case between 23 and 178 eggs. They then take a break of two to three years before mating again. By the way, they always lay their eggs on the beach where they were born!
The eggs themselves have a round shape with a leathery shell. It takes 49 to 80 days for the small turtles to hatch, depending on the ambient temperature.
The largest known nesting colony of the loggerhead turtle is on the island of Masirah in Oman. After all, 30000 turtles lay their eggs here on average annually.