Turtles of the Mediterranean Sea

Loggerhead turtle

The loggerhead turtle is named for its large head and is characterised by heavy strong jaws, allowing to feed on hard shelled-prey. The dorsal shield, called carapace, is slightly heart-shaped and reddish-brown in adults, while the bottom shell, called plastron is yellowish-brown bottom shell.

These massive oceanic animals can reach a length of 90 cm and weight up to 160 kg. They grow slowly and have a very long life, spending the majority of their time in the ocean and coming ashore only to nest.

  • Scientific name: Caretta caretta
  • Common name: Loggerhead turtle
  • Suborder: Cryptodira
  • Family: Cheloniidae
  • Genus: Caretta
  • Species: Caretta caretta
  • Habitat: Pelagic zone
Loggerhead turtle FAR


Loggerhead turtle CLOSE


Loggerhead turtle

Habitat and distribution

Loggerhead turtles are found throughout the entire Mediterranean region and represent one of the only two species that breed in the area. However they are widely distributed in subtropical and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

Like most sea turtles, the loggerheads are highly migratory and move through different localities and habitats during their lifetimes, between foraging areas and nesting beaches.




Loggerhead turtles are primarily carnivorous. In the Medietrranean Sea, they mainly feed on squid and on the Fried Egg Jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata). However, jelly plankton, neuston, fish, crustaceans and other cephalopods are also consumed. Thanks to their powerful jaws, they are able to literally crush the hard shells of their prey.


Loggerhead sea turtles are known for their migratory behaviour. Their life history involves a series of stages of development from hatchling to adult.

Hatchlings and juveniles spend the first 7 to 15 years of their lives in the open ocean, then they migrate to nearshore coastal areas where they will forage and continue to grow for several more years. Finally, adult loggerhead turtles migrate hundreds to thousands of kilometres from their foraging grounds to the beaches where they hatched to nest.

Lifespan and reproduction

Loggerhead sea turtles have very long lives and can live up to 80 years. Adult females reach maturity at 35 years and are solitary night-time nesters. Every two to three years, they mate in coastal waters and then return to nest on the very same beach where they were hatched, called the natal beach.

Each nest contains about 100 eggs. The sex of hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the sand, where cooler temperatures produce males and warmer temperatures produce females. Finally, few hatchlings survive to adulthood, with estimates ranging from one in 1,000 to one in 10,000.



  • Human activities pose the greatest threats to the survival of this animals.
  • Coastal development and associated activities causing degradation of nesting habitats.
  • The current primary threat to global populations is the incidental capture, bycatch, in longlines, gillnets or trawls.

Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea

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