T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Turtle (Loggerhead) Caretta caretta

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Cheloniidae
Subfamily: Carettinae
Genus: Caretta
Species: C. caretta
Binomial name: Caretta caretta
Common names: Loggerhead turtle

Caretta caretta is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. They are one five species of turtles that visit New Zealand’s waters. The other four species are Caretta caretta (Loggerhead), Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback), Dermochelys mydas (Hawksbill) and Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive ridley).
They appear to be only occasional visitors to mainland New Zealand and records show they concentrate mainly around the upper North Island, though they have washed up on beaches as far south as Stewart Island. They get their common name from their oversized head, which looks a bit like a log.

The average loggerhead on an average measure around 90 cm long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to 280 cm have been recorded. Adults weigh approximately 135 kg, with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 450 kg. The large, hard carapace (shell) is a reddish-brown. The plastron (underbelly( is a pale yellow. They four flippers with two (or sometimes three) claws on each. The jaws are large and powerful and are used to dismantling prey
Caretta caretta can live in relatively cold waters (10◦c). Some may even hibernate in waters below 15◦c; they do this by resting on the seafloor and surfacing as little as every ten hours to breathe.
It's estimated that they live >67 years.
They are omnivores, feeding mostly on jellyfish, molluscs and crustaceans

Loggerheads are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Commercial trade of loggerheads or derived products is prohibited by CITES Appendix I. Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths. Turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls. Turtle excluder devices have been implemented in efforts to reduce mortality by providing an escape route for the turtles. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators have also taken a toll on loggerhead populations. Efforts to restore their numbers will require international cooperation since the turtles roam vast areas of ocean and critical nesting beaches are scattered across several countries.

In New Zealand, all sea turtles are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. This means it is illegal to kill or harass any species of sea turtle within New Zealand's Territorial Sea or Exclusive Economic Zone. It is also illegal to possess a sea turtle, or any part of a sea turtle without a permit issued under the Wildlife Act, or evidence that it was legally imported into New Zealand or was in your possession prior to the commencement of the Wildlife Act (1 April 1954).

The carapace of this loggerhead is reddish brown; five vertebral scutes run down the turtle's midline bordered by five pairs of costal scutes.


The underside of a loggerhead sea turtle as it swims overhead.




Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/