Monday Reads: The Loggerhead Sea Turtle Edition

Wandering the watery world

A baby loggerhead heads for the waves on Georgia's Blackbeard Island.
A baby loggerhead heads for the waves on Georgia's Blackbeard Island. (Becky Skiba / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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Last week, Monday Reads took a look at the seafaring Hawaiian petrel, avian travelers who spend nearly their entire lives over the open ocean. Today, we turn to another wanderer (albeit one who dwells under the waters, rather than above) who also shares an Earthjustice connection: the loggerhead sea turtle.

Born on sandy beaches at a mere fraction of their adult weight, loggerheads who survive into the decades of their adult years can grow to a stately 350 pounds, swimming the ocean currents of the world. Once plentiful, the loggerheads today are in decline, facing serious threats from human activity, such as miles of maiming hooks courtesy of bottom longline fisheries.

As hatchlings, loggerheads break free of their eggshells with no one to guide them to the waters of their future but instincts and the moonlit starry night. Big city lights have been known to beckon to the young—human and turtle, alike—luring the naïve hatchlings with false hopes and promises. (Several hundred loggerhead babes were quite nearly waylaid in just this manner, attempting to parade across a bustling street in Scarborough, Australia earlier this month.)

For male loggerheads, this first time is the last time that they will set flipper on dry land; they will spend the remainder of their life riding the ocean currents. The ladies, on the other hand, are known to return to their hatching ground to lay eggs of their own—though not for another 30 years, until they’ve reached reproductive maturity.

As they explore the oceans through the years, loggerheads will carry with them a thriving city of microcosmic proportions. Dozens of tiny, coexisting species of marine plants and animals will live on the vast—comparatively—expanse of the loggerhead’s carapace.

Swiss nonprofit Save Our Seas Foundation has a charming trailer for their documentary Turtle: The Incredible Journey, giving a glimpse into the life of loggerheads:

Read more about sea turtles at Earthjustice’s feature Sea Turtles Rescued from Longliners, and then head over to learn about Earthjustice’s case against the National Marine Fisheries Service to fulfill the agency’s legal duty to protect the turtles against longliners.

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