A youg loggerhead turtle swims in the ocean near Panama City, Florida. Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Loggerhead sea turtles spend almost all of their lives swimming in the ocean, but they are born on land. When it is time to lay eggs, mother turtles leave the ocean and crawl onto sandy beaches. They dig holes, bury their eggs, and then return to the ocean. When the baby turtles hatch they must crawl across the beach and try to reach the water. Not all of the young turtles reach the water, but those who do have a chance of surviving and growing into adult turtles.
Loggerhead turtles are reptiles. Reptiles hatch from eggs, have scales or scaly skin, and do not produce their own internal heat. Instead, reptiles are warmed or cooled by the air or water around them. Loggerhead turtles, like most reptiles, are more active when it is warm outside and less active when it is cool or cold.
The shell on the back of a loggerhead turtle is part of the turtle’s skeleton. Turtles that live on land have round shells, while turtles that live in the sea have flatter shells. A loggerhead turtle’s flat, sleek shell provides little resistance when the turtle is swimming through the water. The loggerhead turtle uses less energy to swim than it would use if it had a high, rounded shell.
Loggerhead turtles do not have any teeth. They use their sharp beaks to chew up lobsters, crabs, and shellfish.
All baby loggerhead turtles hatch on a beach. Humans have changed many beaches around the world by building houses at the edge of the beaches. These changes have left fewer places for the turtles to lay eggs. This means that fewer baby turtles hatch and survive to become adults.
The number of adult loggerhead turtles has gone down since scientists began studying the turtles. If this continues to happen, eventually loggerhead turtles may become extinct. This would mean no more loggerhead turtles in the whole world! People have already begun protecting some beaches where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs, and still more people are working to protect other beaches around the world.
These tracks were made by turtles crawling across the beach in search of a place to lay eggs. By OpenCage, via Wikimedia Commons (see link below)
Loggerhead turtles have powerful flippers that they use to swim through the water. By Ukanda, via Wikimedia Commons (see link below)
For References, please see the links listed above and the books listed below:
Howell, Catherine. “Reptiles and Amphibians”. National Geographic Nature Library, 1993. Pp. 30-35.
Love, Carrie and Caroline Stamps, ed. Animals: A Children’s Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing, 2008. Pp. 164-167.