Size: Up to 3 feet (1 m) long and 400 pounds (182 kg).
Range: In Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland to Argentina, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean and Mediterranean seas.
This sea turtle visits Delaware Bay in summer and fall. It is the most common turtle in U.S. waters, inhabiting warm, nearshore regions of the Atlantic Ocean. Its major nesting beaches in the United States are in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
The loggerhead is named for its large head, which may measure 10 inches wide. Its reddish-brown, heart-shaped shell may reach 3 feet long. This turtle can weigh up to 400 pounds although some tipped the scales at 1,000 pounds several decades ago.
Loggerheads have powerful jaws for crushing shellfish. They eat horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, clams, mussels, and other invertebrates.
Like all sea turtles, the loggerhead can see well underwater and is believed to have an acute sense of smell. When active, it must swim to the surface every few minutes to breathe. When resting, it can stay underwater for as long as two hours without breathing.
Loggerhead turtles are listed as a threatened species. Their population has been declining for a number of reasons, from turtles drowning in fishing nets, to raccoons preying on their eggs. All sea turtles are protected by law in the United States.
Recent research funded by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program indicates that the Delaware Bay serves as an important habitat for sea turtles in the summer and fall, with turtle densities comparable to or greater than the U.S. southeast coast where the animals are most abundant. For more information, see "Sea Turtles Count on Delaware Bay," University of Delaware Sea Grant Reporter, Special Issue 2000.