NOAA Games Quest to Nest Field Guide - Life History
Field Guide - Life History
Where Does the Game Occur?
This game takes place in the waters off Florida but Loggerheads are found around the world in temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Loggerheads are the most abundant species of sea turtle found in U.S. coastal waters. In the Atlantic, the loggerhead turtle's range extends from Newfoundland to as far south as Argentina. In the eastern Pacific, loggerheads have been reported as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Chile.
About Loggerhead Turtles
Sea turtles are saltwater reptiles,
well adapted to life in the marine world.
They have streamlined bodies and four flippers and they are graceful swimmers able to navigate across the oceans. Sea turtles breath air and must swim to the surface every few minutes for air.
Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. The carapace (top shell) is slightly heart shaped and reddish brown in adults, while the plastron (bottom shell) is generally a pale yellowish color. The neck and flippers are usually dull brown to reddish brown on top and medium to pale yellow on the sides and bottom. The average length of an adult loggerhead's shell is 36 inches (92 centimeters), and the average weight is 250 pounds (113 kilograms).
Loggerheads and Their Ocean Habitat
Loggerhead turtles spend almost their entire life in the ocean.
They live in nearshore waters, including coastal bays and estuaries, and the ocean.
Small juveniles will spend from 7 to 12 years traveling oceanic waters before returning to nearshore waters.
As adults, loggerheads predominately look for food in coastal areas, such as Florida Bay.
Loggerheads and Their Nesting Habitats
All sea turtles begin their lives on land, as tiny hatchlings. Once they hatch, they go straight into the ocean. Male turtles never return to the shore unless they are sick or injured.
Female turtles come to shore when they are ready to lay their eggs. They nest along the Atlantic coast of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia,
and North Carolina and along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The east coast of Florida is one of the most important places in the world for loggerhead nesting.
Ideal nesting habitat for loggerhead turtles includes a healthy sand dune ecosystem that is protected from beach armoring, artificial lighting, and heavy beach traffic. Dunes just above the beach should include grasses like dune grass and sea oats to help anchor the sand and cut coastal winds.