One of the privileges of living on or near the ocean is the ability to witness the various cycles of our unique wildlife. Here is a photo essay, taken yesterday by a neighbor, of a loggerhead turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs. I've added information about the loggerheads. What a great way to celebrate World Oceans Day especially in the midst of the devastating BP Oil spill. Enjoy!
Once loggerhead turtles reach breeding age, approximately 9 - 10
years old they come back to the same beach where they were born !
The nesting period ranges from May to August with incubation
times varying between 45 and 90 days and the average for Florida
around 60 days.
Once they lay the eggs, usually fairly close to our dunes,
volunteers drive the beach in a small beach jeep (like a golf
cart with beach tires) each morning to locate, mark and check
on the nests. These dedicated folks are called "The Turtle Patrol"
Heading back to the water is a slow process and will be the
same path the baby turtles will take when they are born, usually
at night and approximately 60 days from now.
They use their flippers not only to swim but to bury the
approximately 100 eggs. Nests are often lost to predators such
as raccoons, dogs and ghost crabs as well as shoreline erosion.
Loggerheads are the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world
and grow to about 200 lbs with a approx life span of 30 yrs.
Loggerheads are known to nest between 1 and 4 times per
season at intervals of approximately 14 days.
Florida loggerheads’ migratory path follows an enormous
circular current system known as the North Atlantic gyre.
Water in the gyre is relatively warm, and food is abundant.
But outside the gyre, conditions are less favorable, and
turtles that stray from the route often die from the cold.
Working in Florida, scientists have found what they
believe is the strongest evidence yet that baby loggerhead
turtles "read" the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate
the massive clockwise current that sweeps the northern
Loggerheads feed on mollusks, crustaceans, fish and other
A slow swimmer compared to other sea turtles, the loggerhead
occasionally falls prey to sharks, and individuals missing flippers
or chunks of their shell are not an uncommon sight.
However the loggerhead compensates for its lack of speed
with stamina - for example a loggerhead that had been tagged
at Melbourne Beach, FL was captured off the coast of Cuba
11 DAYS LATER!
"To me, one of the great wonders of the world is that baby
sea turtles enter the ocean and then swim across the Atlantic
and back all by themselves," said Dr. Kenneth J. Lohmann, associate
professor of biology at UNC at Chapel Hill.