Loggerhead Turtle: Caretta caretta
Loggerheads are ocean-dwelling turtles that average about 36 inches in shell length and weigh between 150 and 400 pounds. Their carapace is reddish-brown and heart-shaped; the underside, or plastron, is creamy yellow.
Loggerheads in the United States nest from North Carolina to Texas; Florida hosts the largest nesting population. These sea turtles are federally listed as threatened. Threats include loss of wild beaches for nesting, nest predation by raccoons and feral hogs, accidental drowning in shrimp and fishing nets and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris.
As adults, loggerheads eat jellyfish, crabs, mollusks, sponges and marine plants. Their life span may exceed that of humans.
Every two to three years loggerheads mate in shallow water off nesting beaches. The female goes ashore two or more times a season to lay 100 -150 white, leathery, golfball-sized eggs in a deep cavity she digs in the sand with her hind feet. After filling the nest she crawls back to the sea. The eggs incubate for about eight weeks, when the hatchlings emerge and scamper toward the ocean, facing a horde of predators. Few survive their first year.