Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) may grow to over one meter long and weigh around 110 kg or more. It reaches sexual maturity at around 35 years of age. This turtle is characterised by the large head and powerful jaws, which are used by immatures and adults in benthic habitats to crush the shells of molluscs and crustacean prey.
Loggerheads are circumglobal, occurring throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They occupy three different ecosystems during their lives: the terrestrial zone, the oceanic zone, and the "neritic" zone The greatest cause of decline and the continuing primary threat to loggerhead turtle populations worldwide is incidental capture in fishing gear, primarily in longlines and gillnets, but also in trawls, traps and pots, and dredges.
Loggerheads nest in relatively few countries in the Indian Ocean, and the number of nesting females is generally small, except on Masirah Island (Sultanate of Oman) which supports one of only two loggerhead nesting beaches in the world that have greater than 10,000 females nesting per year. Studies in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans show that loggerheads can pass decades crossing from one side of the ocean basin to another, before taking up residence on benthic coastal waters. This makes them especially subject to interactions with modern high seas fisheries, particularly longlines; coastal trawl and net fisheries may also be important.
* * * * *
The preceding biological information on marine turtle species found around the Indian Ocean is derived partly from the NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, website:(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/), supplemented by other sources (such as a website of the Australian Government, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts -- for information on the Flatback turtle), and additional information supplied by Dr. Jack Frazier (IOSEA Advisory Committee Chair).
Click to view and download an attractive identification key prepared by Kélonia and Ifremer, available in English (1.2 MB) or French (1.5 MB).