Named for its massive block-like head, the loggerhead is Florida’s most common sea turtle. Adults weigh 275 pounds on average with a shell about one yard long. Its shell, ruddy brown on top and creamy yellow underneath, is very broad near the head and tapers toward the rear. Each flipper has two claws. Adult males have longer tails than females.
The loggerhead’s powerful jaws allow it to easily crush and eat clams, crabs and other armored animals. Its diet primarily consists of jellyfish, crabs and a variety of mollusks.
Florida’s sandy Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico beaches host one of the largest loggerhead nesting aggregations in the world. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years to lay four to seven nests, one about every 14 days. Each nest contains about 100 to 126 eggs that incubate approximately 60 days.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has over 1 mile of beach that the female loggerhead sea turtle nests on. Usually under the cover of darkness, she emerges from the ocean and crawls up the beach. In the morning, park rangers see her tracks and determine if it’s a nest or a false crawl. False crawls are non-nesting emergences when, for some reason, the female does not lay eggs. In the event the rangers decide it is a nest, a cage will be placed to protect the eggs from predators.
Park staff, volunteers and visitors all help protect this threatened marine turtle.