The main species nesting on our local beaches are the Loggerhead turtle and the Green turtle.
If you watch closely you will see resident Green turtles often bobbing and feeding along the beaches and rocks from Moffat Headland to Kings Beach.
During November – March Loggerhead turtles nest in the dunes. These eggs take 8-11 weeks to incubate – January – April. When ready, the baby turtle hatchings emerge at night as temperatures are cooler and less chance of becoming prey for other animals.
Despite this, still only 1 out of 1,000 hatchlings survive to breed at the age of 30. On average Loggerhead Turtles will live 60-80 years and most likely return to the region of their birth when it is time to nest.
What’s the difference?
Green Turtle – Chelonia mydas
Among the largest sea turtles in the world, green turtles can weigh up to 200 kg (about 440 lb). Critter cameras and GPS trackers recorded them traveling 2,000 km (about 1,240 mi) to get from nesting sites to feeding grounds. They are mostly found grazing near grassy seafloors and are believed to get more than 100 years old. When females are ready to nest, they usually choose the same beach used by their mothers. They lay up to 120 eggs, and like many other sea turtle species, only a small fraction of these survive. Their eggs look similar to deflated ping pong balls and soft to the touch. Their gender is determined by the temperature of the surrounding sand during their incubation period.
Why are they so important?
Since green turtles feed on seagrasses and algae, they maintain the seagrass beds healthy and productive – you can compare this with trimming the plants from your garden, which is necessary to make them grow better.
When this turtle digests the seagrass, it becomes available as recycled nutrients to countless marine species living in the seagrass ecosystem. Healthy seagrass beds lead to a healthy nursery habitat (a place where many species of fish and invertebrates spend part of their life to grow). Many of these species that depend on seagrass beds serve as food to hundreds of millions of people.
AT A GLANCE
- Round, steep and smooth carapase.
- Carapace colour can be brown or olive.
- 4 pairs of costal scutes.
- 1 claw found on each flipper.
- Can grow up to 120 cm long (about 47 in).
Loggerhead Turtle – Caretta caretta
They are massive at 230 kg (about 500 lb), dive up to 230 m (about 750 ft) deep to regulate their body temperature and can get over 100 years old. Distinguished by their large head and strong jaws, loggerhead turtles are generally not mean spirited, although there have been cases where they attack people with their powerful beak. You may be cautious and respect their space. As if this wasn’t badass enough, they also feed on the incredibly poisonous Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish (just like the nudibranchs). They also feed on mollusks, crabs, sponges and urchins. Females nest about every 2 years and lay between 40 to 190 eggs per clutch.
Why are Loggerhead Turtles important?
To find their favorite prey, loggerheads excavate sediments from the sea floor, which is essential to maintain its balance. They also provide their shell as a habitat to at least 100 different species of small plants and animals.
Why do we need to protect Loggerhead Turtles?
The World Wild Fund (WWF) considered loggerheads as an extremely vulnerable species, since their nesting beaches are under threat from tourism development. As other turtle species, loggerhead is hunted for its meat and eggs and its population is decreasing due to pollution, climate change and bycatch (incidental capture).
At a glance
- Big head and large neck.
- Heart shaped carapace, reddish brown with 5 pairs of costal scutes.
- 2 claws found on each flipper.
- Can grow up to 110 cm (about 43 in) long.
How we all can help these endangered turtles?
Our oceans and beaches are still polluted – the problem is that when eaten by any marine life, creates a very slow and painful death.
The solution is very SIMPLE – Take your rubbish with you! or if you see it, pick it up – leaving our beaches for all to enjoy.