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Caretta caretta gigas

Linné, 1758

Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle


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Latin name : Caretta caretta gigas (Linné, 1758)
Synonyms :
Classification : Reptilia [ Laurenti, 1768 ] ( Reptiles )
Name : Tortue caouanne
Name : Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Main identification characters
Loggerheads have a characteristic large head, but it is not because they house a large brain, instead, the space is used for their closing muscles to the jaws. There are two subspecies to Caretta caretta , the other is C. caretta gigas, found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. C. Caretta caretta differ from gigas by the number of marginal laminae (C. Caretta caretta have 7-8 while gigas have 7-12). Also, the neural bones of the Atlantic species are not interrupted by pleurals, and their front flippers possess two claws.
Possible confusions
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Atlantic loggerheads are carnivorous and eat sponges, jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, clams, and oysters. They have extra powerful jaws which enable them to easily crush the hard shells of their prey.
Cycle of life / Reproduction
These sea turtles reach sexual maturity when their shells are no longer than 50 cm. The eggs, which are 40-42 mm in diameter, are laid in the flood of spring tides. The eggs are placed in a nest, which is usually choosen in an undisturbed area of well- drained dunes or grassy vegetation. The female comes ashore and climbs up to the hightide line, she then stops and thrusts her snout in the sand to make a shallow hole. Once the hole is dug and the eggs are laid, the nest is then covered by the turtle using her hind flippers. Incubation lasts for a period of 31-65 days. There is usually 120 eggs per clutch, and the female lays two clutches at an interval of thirteen days. The females come ashore to nest only at night in the spring and summer. The females usually nest every other year with 3-4 nests per season. The eggs in the nest usually hatch around the same time, and the babies quickly move together to the water leaving behind their only terrestrial life stage.
Interaction with other species
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They spend most of their time in a pelagic environment. They frequent undisturbed beaches for nesting. Sometimes they are found in freshwater streams and rivers, such as the Mississippi River.
Geographical distribution
Atlantic Ocean: Found from Argentina to Nova Scotia. The highest populations in North America are found on barrier islands from North Carolina to the Florida Keys. These Florida loggerheads migrate to the Bahamas in the winter. Small populations of the Atlantic loggerhead are also found on barrier islands off of the Texas coast.
Websites :
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/caretta/c._caretta$narr [...]

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Data sheet written by Christophe Naslain , 29/11/2002

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