Habitat and Geography

             The Caretta caretta, also known as the loggerhead sea turtles is widely distributed all over the world in coastal waters, subtropical waters, and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The primary habitat of loggerheads is in southeastern United States, South America, and the western parts of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Oceans (MarineBio, 2014; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2013; Hawkes et al., 2011; Karavas et al., 2006). Most of the nesting concentrations in the U.S. are found from southwest Florida to North Carolina. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is found in Florida and is an important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere (NOAA, 2013).  Little nesting takes place westward to Texas up to Virginia. When female loggerheads from U.S. beaches are not nesting, they can be found in eastern U.S., Greater Antilles, Bahamas, Gulf of Mexico and Yucatán waters. Nearly 88% of loggerhead nesting around the entire world is found in the U.S., Oman, and Australia (NOAA, 2013). Take a look at the loggerhead distribution map below.
    The widely distributed loggerheads live in threLoggerhead distribution mape ecosystems during their life time: beaches (terrestrial zone), water (oceanic zone), and near shore coastal areas (“neritic” zone) (NOAA, 2013).  Examples of near shore coastal areas are bays, salt marshes, lagoons, creeks, and the mouths of large rivers.  Other examples of where a loggerhead may be found are coral reefs and rocky places (U.S. Fish & Wildlife, 2013). Loggerheads face many threats in their habitat. A main threat in a loggerhead habitat is getting caught in fishing gear (NOAA, 2013). Examples of predators that live in a loggerhead hatchling’s habitat on beaches are sea birds, mammals, crabs and carnivorous fish (MarineBio, 2014). To learn more about the loggerhead’s prey and predators click here.
    The loggerhead’s habitats on beaches or along bays need to be on sand for nesting (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013). The loggerhead habitats on beaches are usually steep, narrow, and have suitable sand (NOAA, 2013). Suitable sand, or the sand texture, is an important characteristic that loggerheads look for in selecting a beach. Suitable sand allows for exchange, is moist, allows water to be drained from the nest, and prevents from the nest from collapsing onto the eggs (Karavas et al., 2006). Sand on the coast has a high pH, low nutrient content, and a high concentration of salt (Karavas et al., 2006).The Caretta caretta's nesting site is usually located with other species of sea turtles (U.S. Fish and Wildlife, 2013).  Once a loggerhead hatches, usually at night, it follows the light reflected off the water to the sea (MarineBio, 2014). When the hatchlings make it to the sea, they can be found in ocean currents floating on buildups of material like seaweed (NOAA, 2013). Loggerhead hatchlings from the United States are believed to live in the ocean currents (the North Atlantic gyre) for 7 to 12 years (U.S. Fish and Wildlife, 2013). Once the hatchling grows to a certain size, the juvenile loggerheads migrate to inshore areas such as lagoons, estuaries, bays, river mouths, and shallow coastal waters (U.S. Fish and Wildlife, 2013; NOAA, 2013). The juveniles mature inshore for 13 to 20 years before making their first reproductive migration (U.S. Fish and Wildlife, 2013). To learn about loggerhead reproduction click here.
     The females may have a long migration back to their originLoggerhead sea turtle swimmingal birth place to nest (NOAA, 2013; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013; MarineBio, 2014). An adult female loggerhead migrates on a seasonal pattern  may also have a wintering area. A wintering area is where some loggerheads rest in water just warm enough for survival (Hawkes et al., 2011).  Wito their nesting beaches, coastal feeding grounds, water or deep sea areas, and temperate areas. The loggerheadnter home ranges were on average smaller than summer home ranges according to population studied by Hawkes et al., (2011).  Also, according to the population studied by Hawkes et al., loggerhead turtles are likely to be found in the same home ranges year after year (2011). A loggerhead's typical habitat, according to a subpopulation studied by Hawkes et al., is unlikely to be found at temperatures lower than 18.2 degrees Celsius or higher than 29.2 degrees Celsius (2011). It is also unlikely to be found in waters where the current is more than 50 cm per second. The loggerhead habitat is usually in depths between 3.0 meters and 89.0 meters (Hawkes et al., 2011).

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