Loggerhead sea turtle, Canary Islands
The loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta, is a species of sea turtle that inhabits virtually all subtropical and temperate waters of the planet, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Currently, the IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature- lists the loggerhead sea turtle as Vulnerable, mainly due to declining populations and threats to breeding sites, which means that year after year, the number of hatchlings is decreasing.
Loggerhead sea turtles nest on sandy beaches in temperate and subtropical regions around the world. Like most sea turtles, loggerhead turtles are highly migratory and range over a multitude of habitats during their 45-year lifespan.
Upon leaving the beach where they hatch, hatchlings begin an oceanic phase in major current systems (gyres) that serve as developmental zones in open sea. After 4-19 years in the oceanic zone, turtles return to prey-rich nearshore areas, where they feed and grow to maturity at 10-39 years of age. Once sexually mature, loggerhead sea turtles make breeding migrations between feeding and breeding areas at 2–3-year intervals. Migrations by both males and females can span oceanic areas ranging from hundreds to thousands of kilometres.
Major conservation threats to loggerhead turtles include:
By-catch in fisheries, direct capture of turtles or eggs for human consumption, coastal development affecting critical turtle habitat, pollution (e.g., ingestion or entanglement, disorientation caused by artificial lights) and climate change, increased sand temperature on nesting beaches affecting the sex ratio of hatchlings, rising sea levels, frequency and intensity of storms affecting nesting habitats, etc.
Loro Parque Fundación has collaborated in different projects throughout its history to protect and increase scientific knowledge of loggerhead sea turtles. Together with rescue centres in the Canary Islands, we support the recovery of rescued species in the wild, and at the same time we carry out analyses to determine their health, and tagging to study the distribution and ecology of this animal, which will allow us to create effective protection measures for the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles.