Caretta - Caretta

Yellow Turtle

The loggerhead turtle has the appearance of the toughest of turtles. With its large head and strong, crushing jaws, it can eat and crush large shells. It does not have the most beautiful shell like the hawksbill turtle, it is not as large as the leatherback turtle, it is not as fast and cannot dive as deep as the green turtle, and it does not come to the beaches to lay its eggs in large arribadas like the olive ridley. Despite not having any of these striking characteristics, the yellow turtle is noble. Not for nothing is it called a loggerhead turtle. However, it has something that others do not: it can live in a wide range of ecosystems, nesting in the widest geographic range of any sea turtle, from the tropics to temperate and cold zones. They can live and feed in open waters as well as in regions close to the coast, from the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil to Canada. 

The carapace of the female yellow turtle is reddish-brown mixed with olive color, and the plastron is creamy yellow. Its skin is reddish-brown with yellow and orange tones. The skin of males has darker brown tones. Its carapace has five pairs of costal scutes, is elongated and ends in a point with a thickening towards the caudal region. The head is very large and triangular in shape, the lower jaw is arrow-shaped and slightly bent downward. Its neck is short and thick. Males differ from females in having a longer tail and a thick curved nail on the front fins.

In terms of distribution and habitat, the greatest concentration of loggerhead turtles is found off the coasts of Mexico, Cuba, the northern Bahamas, along the North American coasts from the Mississippi River, along the Gulf, and up the east coast of the United States into Canada. Very few loggerhead turtles are found on European or African coasts. In Mexico, isolated nesting occurs from Tamaulipas to the Yucatan Peninsula; however, on the Caribbean side, nesting is abundant along the entire coast of Quintana Roo.

In the Mexican Pacific coast, the species has no nesting areas; the population of the loggerhead turtle in Bahía de Ulloa, Baja California Sur, is maintained entirely by nesting that occurs in the Japanese archipelago.

The loggerhead turtle nests between one and six times per year, with nesting intervals of 12-17 days. Clutch size is 95 to 120 eggs, with an average incubation period of 55 days, ranging from 48 to 60 days depending on incubation temperature.

Their diet is based mainly on mollusks, fish, lobsters, crabs, squid, clams, among others. They are bottom feeders, although they also eat surface jellyfish and macroplankton.

The loggerhead sea turtle population is critically endangered according to the IUCN red list. Sadly, it faces many of the current dangers to which all sea turtle species are exposed. Some of the threats include: incidental fishing, direct utilization of eggs and turtles for human use, human-induced alteration of coastal environments due to construction, dredging, beach modification, pollution and pathogens, debris affecting sea turtles (through ingestion or entanglement, disorientation caused by artificial lights), as well as impacts of widespread pathogens (e.g., fibropapilloma virus) on turtle health.

Current and future impacts of climate change, such as increased sand temperature on nesting beaches, affect the sex ratio of hatchlings, sea level rise, and the frequency and intensity of storms affecting nesting habitats.