The loggerhead sea turtle is commonly found in U.S. waters. However, due to pollution and developments in their habitats, the species became a part of the threatened or endangered list and with continued relief efforts, hopefully, it can be taken off this list.
The loggerhead sea turtle is one of the largest hard-shelled sea turtles at a length of three feet long and weighing in around 250 pounds on average. Some of this species have even been noted to be around 1,000 pounds. That’s one heavy turtle! With their large heads, strong jaws and a reddish brown top shell with a yellow bottom shell, these turtles are one of a kind. The loggerhead sea turtle is primarily a carnivore. While its diet includes jellyfish, conchs, and crabs, it will also feed on seaweed at times to abate its hunger.
While the loggerhead sea turtle species can be found in locations such as island bodies of water, they mostly stay within the coastal habitats. This can be anywhere near an ocean beach to a steep sloped, coarse-grained beach. Once the loggerhead turtle hatchlings have left the nest, they begin frenzied efforts to reach the water, trying to avoid predators such as raccoons, crabs and other creature intent on a turtle dinner. The tiny turtles will swim out to the deep sea where surface waters form local downwellings, which is commonly noted by the floating seaweed. Once in the water, they then must watch for other dangers, such as sharks, which they will do their entire lives.
Once the loggerhead sea turtles have reached about 7 or 8 years old, they begin to migrate closer to shore and continue maturing into adulthood. While the species has been located along the coasts of Washington and Oregon, they have been seen in the Baja Peninsula, near southern Japan and in the Gulf of Mexico along the coast of Florida.
While the loggerhead sea turtle is a beautiful creature, it is indeed on the endangered list. It first became listed as a threatened species under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) in 1978. Later in September 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed it as part of its Distinct Population Segments. Due to the captures using fishing gear, such as long lines and gillnets, turtles are being caught and killed in the nets. In some instances, the turtles are a direct harvest for hunters.
Whether a loggerhead is on the beach or in their natural marine environment, there is a danger to them from accidental and intentional capture. To keep the species safe, many conservation efforts have been put in to place. The Loggerhead turtles are being protected by many international treaties and agreements. In Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), it can also be seen that international trade of the species is prohibited.
In addition to international efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service also protects marine turtles and their nesting beaches to help keep the creature from becoming extinct.