L is for Loggerhead Turtle
The loggerhead turtle is one of 3 varieties of sea turtles (green, hawksbill, and loggerhead) that nest in Belize. This particular sea turtle is usually 3 feet in length and 200-300 pounds in weight. The underneath of loggerhead turtles is a medium yellow in color, while the upper shell is usually reddish-brown, long and
slightly tapering. They are named for their large head, which can reach 10 inches in width. This turtle is rated threatened to vulnerable in different parts of the world. Turtles appear to glide along propelled by their flippers, but they can swim very fast when threatened. Sea turtles seem to have incredible navigational abilities, traveling between feeding sites and nesting sites that may be hundreds of miles apart.
Loggerhead turtles are found along the coast and sea, frequently in the area between the coast and the barrier reef.
Loggerhead turtles feed on bottom dwelling invertebrates such as mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters) and crabs, as well as shrimp, sponges, jellyfish and sea plants. They have very powerful jaws that enable them to rip away encrusted animals attached to rocks and reef and then crush the animals for chewing.
Turtles live their life in the sea, but they return to sandy beaches to lay their eggs during particular months of the year. Individual turtles do not lay eggs every year, there is usually and interval of 1 or more years between nestings. As air-breathing reptiles covered with impermeable skin, sea turtles are one of the few marine species that are suited for terrestrial life. It is the shelled egg that demands that the turtle's nest be laid on land; if the eggs were laid in water, the air-breathing embryo would drown. Mating between the male and female takes place in the water off of the nesting beaches; little is known about the rituals of this process. Females then come onto land for the nesting process, an event that requires incredible exertion. After a long journey to land, the female sea turtle makes a long trek up the beach to lay her eggs. She chooses a well-protected area, above the high tide line, and begins the arduous process of digging the 20-inch deep nest. She will lay up to 100 eggs or more that will incubate for 50-68 days before hatchlings emerge and make the treacherous trip down the beach and to the sea. The sex of hatched sea turtles depends on the temperature to which the eggs are exposed. Both the turtle nests and the young turtles are highly susceptible to the environment and predators.
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