By John B. Virata
|Click image to enlarge|
The loggerhead sea turtle can grow to about 7 feet in length. Photo credit: Thinkstock
The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network have announced their intent to sue the Obama Administration for failing to propose and protect the habitat of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), as required by law after it was placed on the Endangered Species list in September 2011. The sea turtle had experienced up to a 40 percent decline in nesting sites on Florida's beaches beginning in 1998 before seeing a slight rebound in later years. The turtle is susceptible to commercial fishing nets, oil spills, and climate change, according to Teri Shore, program director at SeaTurtles.org.
"Loggerheads on both coasts need robust protections from fisheries, oil spills and climate change to reverse their trajectory toward extinction,” Shore said in a prepared statement. “While awaiting the protections they deserve, loggerhead sea turtles continue to die, entangled in nets or hooked on longlines for swordfish and tuna."
The loggerhead sea turtle can grow to about 7 feet in length and reach a weight of approximately 300lbs. The turtle's range includes the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Indian ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The turtle reaches sexual maturity in as little as 17 (20 to 30 years is the norm) years and has an approximate lifespan of up to 67 years, though they are known to live longer. The loggerhead sea turtle feeds mainly on invertebrates, including sponges, shellfish, jellyfish, shrimp, squid, and sea urchins.
On the east coast, the loggerhead sea turtle nests in Florida from May through August, with egg incubation lasting about 60 days. Around 100 eggs are laid in each nest, and of those, very few will survive into adulthood. According to the IUCN's Marine Turtle Specialist Group, threats to loggerheads and other sea turtle young include predation by raccoons, ghost crabs, birds, and sharks, and weather related events. Man made threats include harvesting of eggs and turtles for food, fishing net entanglements, coastal armoring, and pollution, such as the Gulf Oil Spill.