Loggerhead Facts

Home
Summer 2017
Kiawah's Turtle Patrol
Nest Predation
Turtle FAQ
Turtle Releases
Turtle pictures
Turtle Links
Contacts
Dr Cowgill talks turtles
Turtle Tales

Loggerheads are one of only seven recognized species of marine turtles still in existence today.

One of the loggerhead's major nesting concentrations is in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida.

An average loggerhead clutch contains 120 white, spherical eggs that have a leathery shell.

Loggerheads feed mainly on conchs, crabs, horseshoe crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, fishes, squids, octopuses, whelks, crabs, fish, sponges, and jellyfish.  (See? They eat jellyfish!  You knew you liked loggerheads, didn't you?). 

All sea turtles are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  It is against the law to harass, handled, or disturb them in any way.

   

Loggerhead FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Table of Contents

  1. How big is a loggerhead turtle?
  2. What kind of animal is a loggerhead?
  3. What do loggerheads eat?
  4. Why are loggerheads endangered?
  5. What should I do if I see a nesting loggerhead?
  6. How can I help?
  7. Why do the mama turtles "cry" while nesting?
  8. When does loggerhead nesting season start on Kiawah?
  9. When does hatching season start?
  10. Can you tell whether the hatchlings will be boys or girls?

How big is a loggerhead turtle?

Loggerheads normally weigh 170 to 315 pounds and attain a length of 31 to 49 inches.

Back to Top

What kind of animal is a loggerhead?

Loggerheads, like all sea turtles, are reptiles.  They are related to land turtles, lizards, and snakes.

Back to Top

What do loggerheads eat?

Loggerhead turtles sometimes eat hard, shelled animals such as crabs and clams. They also feed upon sponges, jellyfish, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, and a variety of fish.  They eat jellyfish?  Yet another reason to love loggerheads!  

Back to Top

Why are loggerheads endangered?

Since 1983 the population of the Loggerhead Turtle has declined by more than 50%, making it an endangered species.  Loggerhead populations have declined from historical levels because of coastline development and disturbance of beaches by human activities such as cleaning, driving, and artificial lighting; collecting eggs; destructive fishing practices; pollution; and the dumping of trash into the ocean.

Throughout their life, Loggerheads are exploited as a food source by some cultures and for their shells which are used in some manufacturing processes.  They are also harmed and killed by the propellers of high speed boats and the swallowing of discarded rubbish such as plastic bags and fishing lines.  In addition, modern day fishing techniques such as trawling for prawns and fish, can cause turtles to become entangled in the nets and drown.

The leading cause of loggerhead mortality is drowning in shrimp and fish nets.  In 1978, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) began a program intended to prevent the drowning of turtles in shrimp trawls. A cage-like design called a turtle excluder device (TED) was developed to be installed within the trawl. Since there was a lack of widespread use of these devices on a voluntary basis, NMFS promulgated regulations requiring their use.

Protection of marine habitat is extremely critical to the loggerhead's continued survival. The beaches where they nest must continue to be protected.  In addition, measures must be taken to prevent further loss and degradation of marine habitat from pollution, coastal development, and offshore oil and gas development.

Back to Top

What should I do if I see a nesting loggerhead?

If you are fortunate enough to see a mama turtle, here are some simple rules to follow:

bullet

Never walk on the beach with a flashlight or shine a light in the sea turtle's face. The light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach.

bullet

Do not take pictures using flashes. This high-intensity light can be even more disturbing than the flashlights.

bullet

Stay clear and out of sight of the turtle until she begins laying eggs, otherwise you may scare her back into the sea.

bullet

For your safety, stay away from the turtle's head. Sea turtles, especially loggerheads, have very strong jaws and can harm you if provoked.

bullet

Do not handle the eggs or put any foreign objects into the nest. You can introduce bacteria or injure the eggs.

bullet

Do not handle or ride the sea turtle. In addition to being illegal, you may injure the turtle or cause her to leave without finishing nesting.

bullet

Do not disturb tracks left by turtles. Researchers sometimes use the tracks to identify the type of turtles that nested and to find and mark the nests.

bullet

Do enjoy the experience and remember it for the rest of your life.

Back to Top

How can I help ?

There are many things individuals can do to help loggerheads survive.  

bullet

Become informed about the things that are killing sea turtles or destroying their habitat.  Elected officials make decisions every day that impact these issues.  As an informed citizen you have the power to influence your officials. Make your voice heard!

bullet

Remember that we share our beaches and environment with many other species.  

bullet

Take responsibility for your own actions.  By reducing the amount of plastic garbage, recycling, and not leaving trash on the beach, you are helping preserve the turtle's habitat. 

bullet

Turn out lights at night. Hatchlings head toward the light, normally the stars and moonlight hitting the water. They also will head toward artificial lights such as floodlights and porch lights - and all the perils in that path such as cars and people. Brightly lighted beaches also can deter nesting females.

bullet

Report nest abuse. If you notice that a nest has been disturbed, call 1-800-922-5431.

bullet

Remove debris and furniture from the beach to prevent harming turtles who may eat unsuitable items or get tangled in them.

bullet

Fill in holes in the sand so hatchlings can make a quicker escape to the water.

bullet

Allow hatchlings to crawl. It's tempting to pick up the cute little guys and help them along, but let them be. It's important that they "imprint" on their native beach.

Back to Top

Why do the mama turtles "cry" while nesting?

During the nesting process, the female Loggerhead appears to be crying with liquid flowing from her eyes.  This "crying" serves two very useful purposes:

  1. It is her way of excreting the excess salt acquired from drinking sea water.

  2. It flushes sand from her eyes.

Back to Top

When does loggerhead nesting season start on Kiawah?

Typically the mama loggerheads begin nesting the second week of May.  The past two years they have begun on  Mother's Day weekend!

Back to Top

When does hatching season start?

Generally the hatchlings emerge from the nest fifty-five to sixty-five days after the eggs were laid. 

Back to Top

Can you tell whether the hatchlings will be boys or girls?

Not really.  However, warm sand produces mostly females and these eggs hatch in the shortest time. Cooler sand produces mainly males and the eggs take longer to hatch.

Back to Top

   

Web site created by Scribe hieroglyphicMy Scribe

Copyright 2003 KiawahTurtles.com. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 15, 2015