Toggle Nav

Loggerhead Turtle

Overview

  • Status
    Endangered
  • Scientific Name
    Caretta caretta
  • Weight
    175-400 pounds
  • Length
    33-48 inches
  • Habitats
    Oceans

Loggerhead turtles are named for their large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles. Bycatch, the accidental capture of marine animals in fishing gear, is a serious problem for loggerhead turtles because they frequently come in contact with fisheries.

Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya. Many of their nesting beaches are under threat from tourism development. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.

A Brighter Light on Bycatch

Gillnet fishing, one of the most common forms of fishing in the world, often leads to the accidental capture of non-targeted species. WWF is supporting work to illuminate nets so turtles can avoid swimming into them.

Fishermen with net

Why They Matter

  • The way loggerhead turtles feed on their hard-shelled prey recycles important nutrients and keeps ocean floor sediments in balance. Loggerhead turtles carry colonies of small plants and animals on their shells which serve as important habitat themselves. As many as 100 species of animals and plants have been recorded living on one single loggerhead turtle.

Threats

  • Extinction Risk Endangered
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Loggerhead Turtle

Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles a year are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets—a threat known as bycatch. Sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe, and therefore many drown once caught. Loggerheads are highly migratory and are very likely to come in contact with a fishery, particularly in shrimp gillnets and longlines.

What WWF Is Doing

MID_110077loggerhead-what-wwf-doing.jpg

Volunteers checking a loggerhead turtle nesting site in Turkey

Protecting Sea Turtle Habitat

WWF works around the world to establish marine protected areas (MPA) to ensure sea turtles have a safe place to nest, feed and migrate freely. We encourage governments to strengthen legislation and provide funding for sea turtle protection. WWF also supports the monitoring and patrolling of turtle nests in many parts of the world and helps equip local turtle conservationists. This often leads to ecotourism opportunities and offers alternative livelihoods.

Loggerhead Turtle

WWF aims to reduce turtle bycatch by working with fisheries to switch to more turtle-friendly fishing hooks (“circle” hooks) and advocates for the use of devices that exclude turtles from nets. We run an international competition called Smart Gear to attract creative new ways to solve bycatch problems and to advance those ideas. Winning devices have been designed to minimize the bycatch of turtles on tuna longlines and help turtles avoid gillnets. We work with fishermen to help them save turtles caught in fishing gear. We also use satellite devices to track turtle movements to help prevent future interactions between fisheries and turtles.

Experts

Related Species

xHelp Improve this Site

Just 20 minutes of your time can help improve this site. By participating in a quick activity, you can help us make worldwildlife.org even better.

Start SurveyClose this box