Loggerhead Turtle Shell Characteristics

By Naomi Millburn

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Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are are ocean denizens from the seas surrounding southern Africa all the way to Japan and Australia. For the most part, loggerhead sea turtles are drawn to life in coastal environments, particularly those that are rugged. They are part of the family Cheloniidae.

Background

Loggerhead sea turtles, as adults, usually weigh roughly 250 pounds. They don't attain full reproductive maturity until they are approximately 35 years in age. Loggerhead sea turtles are meat eaters from birth until death, with broad diets that are made up of shrimp, crab, bugs, conches, jellyfish, octopus, squid, whelks, sponges, sea urchins, fish eggs, fish and clams. Though flesh is undoubtedly their main staple, they sometimes dine on algae, too. They possess sturdy and tough jaws that assist them in the consumption of prey animals with extremely solid shells, like crabs. Their life expectancies are thought to be at least 50 years. In the water, they can travel as rapidly as 15 miles every hour.

Shell Size

Loggerhead sea turtles' shells can grow to a maximum of 45 inches long, although fully mature specimens' shells generally make it to just under 40 inches. Their upper shells are longer than they are wide. The overall outline of their shells is similar to that of a heart. The upper shells of male specimens are usually a little broader than those of females. Out of all turtles with hard shells, loggerhead sea turtles boast the biggest, according to the National Geographic.

Shell Coloration

Their bony upper shells are reddish-brown in coloration, however, they often feature some yellowish-green elements as well. Their lower shells, or "plastrons," are markedly paler, and usually are off-white or yellowish. As youngsters, loggerhead sea turtles' upper shells are deep brown or reddish-brown, with lower shells that are typically off-white or similar in color to their tops. At birth, their top shells are usually just a little less than 2 inches long. Weight after birth for these animals is about 0.05 pound.

Costal Scutes on Shells

The upper shells of loggerhead sea turtles display prominent scales -- five sets in total, all on the edges of their physiques. Although uncommon, they sometimes have six sets rather than five. These are referred to as "costal scutes." The sizable and coarsely textured scutes are deep brown and do not intersect.

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