Caretta caretta

Caretta caretta Linnaeus 1758

Common Names

Loggerhead Turtle (English), ترسة (Arabic)

Languages: English

Overview

Description

A large marine turtle; the largest Egyptian specimen has a carapace length of 1,240 mm. Carapace depressed, slightly elongate, smooth; scutes juxtaposed; posterior edge with moderate indentations; 5 coastal scutes; first marginal scute not in contact with first vertebral scute. Head large, with 2 pairs of prefrontals. There are 2 claws on each limb. Males smaller, with longer tails and larger claws. Color of carapace and dorsal sides of limbs and head reddish brown, some scales may be narrowly edged yellowish. All ventral sided yellowish white.

Conservation

Conservation Status

Endangered

Status in Egypt

Uncommon, declining but still widespread. Significant numbers are probably caught by commercial fishing vessels, whence they reach fish markets in Egyptian coastal cities. Loss of nesting beaches is an important problem particularly in North Sinai. However, Kasparek (1993) described the breeding pop­ulation on the western Mediterranean coast of Egypt as "negligible." The same term can be applied to the small North Sinai population. Thus, the major conservation issue facing this and other marine tur­tles in Egypt is the threat by commercial marine fisheries.

Description

Behaviour

Carnivorous, feeding largely on marine invertebrates, crabs, jellyfish, sponges, and occasionally fish. Young are largely pelagic, while adults stay closer to shore. Undergoes extensive migrations from and to nest­ing beaches, feeding grounds and seasonally to escape low temperatures. Nests sometimes on fairly disturbed beaches. A nest probably belonging to this species was found on a busy public beach in Alexandria in the 1970s (Baha El Din unpub. obs.). Many nests and nesting attempts detected by Clarke et al. (2000) were in fairly dis­turbed stretches of beach. Nesting in the eastern Mediterranean takes place between June and September (Clarke et al. 2000). Sexual matu­rity reached between 10 and 15 years (Schleich et al. 1996).

Ecology and Distribution

Global Distribution

Circum-global, within the 10°c oceanic isotherm.

Habitat

Warm and temperate marine waters.

Taxonomy

  • Testudo caretta Linnaeus, 1758 (synonym)
  • Caretta caretta Stejneger, 1904; Flower, 1933; Marx, 1968; Saleh, 1997 (synonym)

References

S., Baha El Din. (2006).  A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo..