Do you know the adorable turtles of the Mediterranean coast: Loggerheads? These turtles, which we’ll see frequently while exploring Kas’s bays by boat, are thought to have lived on this planet for approximately 100 million years.
Loggerheads come on land only to lay eggs and are considered to be endangered. Today, their numbers continue to fall due to manmade development and light pollution. They are under protection since they are endangered.
Information about Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Loggerheads are known scientifically as Caretta Caretta. Found in the warm waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, loggerheads are seen most frequently on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Their most important nesting sites are found in Adana’s Yumurtalik County, Belek, Anamur, Koycegiz, and Dalyan. The coast of Belek is their second biggest nesting ground in the Mediterranean (after Greece’s Zakintos Island) and the biggest in Turkey.
Loggerhead shells can get up to one meter long. Those that live in Turkey are 70-75 cm long and 50-55 cm wide on average. They usually weigh between 70 and 140 kg. Their backs are reddish brown and their bellies are white or light yellow.
Their legs are fin shaped to help them swim and have one or two claws on the outside edge. Despite getting their oxygen from the air, they can stay underwater for a long time. They can live between 100 and 120 years.
Loggerhead turtles are carnivores. They eat sea creatures like fish, shellfish, sea creatures, jellyfish, sponges, mollusks, and oysters. They have strong jaws that can quickly split the shells of their prey. Their strong jaws and their ability to break the hard shells of sea creatures are adaptations they’ve gained from millennia in the water.
Loggerheads don’t go on land except to lay eggs. They bury their eggs in the holes they dig in the sand at night. They can lay up to 100 eggs at a time; numbers as high as 162 have even been recorded.
During their 40-year-long period of fertility, they leave about 3200 eggs in the sand. But only three out of every thousand eggs reach adulthood. The embryos incubate for two months before hatching and heading towards the sea.
After reaching sexual maturity, loggerheads lay eggs in holes they dig in the clean and fine sand of beaches at night during flood tide. Female turtles cling to the coast to take advantage of rising water during the tidal cycle.
They then dig holes for their eggs with their noses. After leaving her eggs in the hole, the female turtle will cover her nest with sand using her back feet and claws.
The gender of the young turtles depends on the temperature during their incubation period. If the average temperature dips below 29 during incubation they become male, above and they become female. Due to the effects of global warming, the danger of the entire species being born either male or female may be soon realized. But it’s believed that the loggerheads, having survived the Ice Age, will overcome this problem.
Newly hatched loggerheads find their way using the moon’s reflection on the sea. They are forever tied to the place where hatched and first saw the world. They return to the beach where they were born to lay eggs. They can migrate long distances to feed, nest, or winter using the planet’s magnetic forces for direction.
That’s when they started to swim back to their old places to lay eggs. The oldest known sea turtle fossil is 150 million years old. That makes them the world’s oldest creatures.
Loggerheads come on land to lay their eggs. In the meantime, they can travel up to 15,000 kilometers in a year.
Having evolved over millions of years, sea turtles are thought to have been living on this planet for about 100 million years. The ancestors of loggerheads don’t look much like modern turtles. The first sea turtles lived during the time of the dinosaurs and were giant turtles that adapted to the ocean.
Due to their change in habitat, their feet became shaped like flippers over time and their bodies became lighter and flatter, better suited to life in the water. As dinosaurs and giant land tortoises went extinct in the following centuries, sea turtles managed to survive.
The oldest reptiles to have transitioned from land to sea, sea turtles now spend their lives in the sea. In some sources they even note that sea turtles existed when the world was made up of a single landmass and later, when it split.
However, we can’t say the same for their conditions todaybecause loggerheads are one of the species under threat due to the growing human population’s need for more settlements, a changing climate, and the disturbance of natural beaches. Their numbers declining, these turtles were placed under protection to prevent their extinction.
You often see loggerheads along the coast and in the bays of Kas. It’s even possible to see these adorable turtles while sailing on the boat trips from Kas to Kalkan in particular. You’ll even have the chance to swim with them during our stops in the pristine bays around Kekova. In that case, we invite you to come swim with the loggerheads in Kas next summer.