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Loggerhead Turtle Background Information

The relevance and the purpose of this research project is to study the migration patterns of the loggerhead turtle in order to better understand why they migrate and the factors involved.  One useful application of this data is to become more aware of ways to preserve the loggerhead turtle’s natural habitat to get them off the endangered list, and to keep them from becoming extinct.  Turtle tracking data for this research project was extracted from WhaleNet.  WhaleNet uses a satellite telemetry transmitter typically about the size of a sony walkman, which is attached to the back of an adult or juvenile sea turtle.  The transmitter is attached level to the turtle’s carapace, behind the head of the turtle.  This supports the flexible antenna to break the surface so the transmitter can track the turtles when it comes up for breath.  A passing Argos satellite receives the data and transmits the data back to researchers.  Once 8-10 months passes, the transmitter discontinues working and finally falls safely off the turtle.  WhaleNet is an award winning, interactive website that focuses on marine research.  It has sections for students, teachers and the rest of the public that lead to a list of resources that are appropriate for each group.  

On July 28, 1978 the loggerhead  species was announced as being threatened mammals. Recent evidence has suggested that females that are nesting in Georgia and South Carolina are declining. Strangely, the number of females in Florida appears to remain constant. To remedy the situation, on January 14, 2002 the National Marine Fisheries Services received a petition to consider the loggerhead turtle population as endangered and to be given a critical habitat.

            Recent surveys conducted by NMFS indicate a noticeable increase over the last twenty-five years in the South Florida subpopulation. Loggerhead turtles take roughly twenty to thirty years to mature, but the effects of a decrease in immature turtles in some cases aren’t apparent nesting beaches for decades. As a result, nesting trends for loggerhead turtles are declining every year. Like many mammals the threat of costal development, commercial fisheries, and pollution play an important role in the decline of loggerhead turtles.

            Loggerhead turtles (adults and sub adults) have “reddish-brown” carapace. Their hard bony exoskeleton covers the head and thorax of the crustacean. Scales can be found on the top and sides of the head.  Flippers are also reddish brown and outlined in yellow. An average adult can reach lengths of 92