Virginia Living Museum
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is one of the largest reptiles found on earth today. The fact that 1 out of 100 may survive to adulthood is remarkable. They have survived huge environmental events in their life on this planet, including changes in climate, sea level, and the extinction and evolution of millions of other organisms. They are survivors in a sea of change. Yet, because of humans they face the threat of extinction.
The name “loggerhead” comes from the species’ remarkably large head. Loggerheads can exceed weights of 91-159 kg and reach to 84-102 cm in length. Like the other species of sea turtles, the loggerhead has a reduced ability to retract its head into its shell, unlike other turtles such as box turtles. They have a body built for an aquatic life, with limbs that resemble paddles. These flippers move and steer them through the water rapidly. They spend a lot of time sleeping, and this can be seen at the Virginia Living Museum. Our sea turtle likes to “wedge” itself under the pilings and take a snooze.
The loggerhead sea turtle can be found in Virginia’s waters during the warmer months and is the most common sea turtle to venture into the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay serves as a large foraging area for loggerheads, as well as Kemp’s Ridleys and green sea turtles. Virginia is the northern most limit for nesting by the loggerhead and every year several nests are laid at Back Bay National Refuge in Virginia Beach.
The loggerhead is listed on the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. All sea turtle species face the danger of heavy exploitation for their meat, eggs, shells, and oil and from being entangled in shrimp nets, gill nets and on the hooks of long lines.
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