Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
U.S.V.I. Animal Fact Sheet #16
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The bones of Loggerhead sea turtles
have been found in Indian middens on St.
Croix, but until recently there have been no
reports of live Loggerhead sea turtles in
The Loggerhead has only recently been
positively identified in the USVI. Until
2003 the Southern and Eastern most records
of Loggerhead sea turtles in the United
States was Culebra.
In 2003 two Loggerheads were
identified on St. Croix. The first, was a
turtle that had been attacked by sharks and
was found by snorkelers, who called the
Division of Fish and Wildlife to see if the
turtle needed help. The turtle didn't need
any help from us. The second positive
identification was of a nesting turtle on
Loggerheads are listed as threatened
throughout their range and are protected by
Federal as well as Territorial Laws.
The Loggerhead is the largest of the hard
shelled turtles, with adults frequently
weighing more than 200 pounds. The
Loggerheads look like a cross between
Hawksbills and Green turtles. The Beak is
blunter than a Hawksbill but pointer than a
Green. The shell is not as elongate or the
edges as serrate as a Hawksbill, although
more so than a Green. It is easy to tell that
Loggerheads are not Hawksbills, but more
difficult to distinguish them from Greens.
The easiest way is to count the marginal
scutes on the shell. Loggerheads have 5
scutes and the Greens have 4. The head and
neck of the Loggerhead is much larger and
heavier than a green of similar size. The
Loggerheads have a reddish color to their
shell, flippers and neck.
Loggerheads belong to the family of
marine turtles known as the Cheloniidae, to
which the Green and Hawksbill turtles also
belong. The Leatherbacks belong to a
different Family, of soft shelled marine
turtles. All marine turtles are found within
the order Chelonii. Of course like all turtles
they are reptiles and are in the Class
Distribution and Habitat:
Loggerheads are not considered a
tropical species. They are found in
subtropic northern and southern oceans with
only a few seen in the tropics. They
seasonally migrate both as adults and as
juveniles. The juveniles tend to migrate
north in the summer to feed in the
Chesapeake, Delaware and other coastal
bays. They follow a water temperature
range between 550 and 840F. When the
water warms up in the summer they will
migrate north to the summer feeding
grounds, and reverse the migration when the
North Atlantic hatchlings are thought to
be pelagic and live within the North Atlantic
gyre for 10-12 years before moving into
coastal waters. At this point the turtles
become benthic feeders.
The Loggerhead eats a wide range of
food items, molluscs, crustaceans, fish, and
other marine animals and plants have been
found in the guts of stranded Loggerhead
What you can do to help
1. If you see any turtle nesting or hatching
events, please write down the date, time and
location you saw the turtles then call the
Division of Fish and Wildlife at 340-772-
1955 (on St. Croix) or 340-775-6762 on St.
Thomas/St. John to report the event.
2. Hatchlings can crawl to the water
themselves, if you see hatchlings making
their way into the water, please let them
complete the journey themselves.
3. Please make an extra effort to keep plastic
out of the marine environment.
4. Turtles, especially hatchlings, will head
toward the brightest light source on the
beach. This used to be star and moon light
shining on the ocean, but today it may be
street or building lights. Turn off lights that
shine on and toward the beach, when
hatchlings are emerging.
5. Do not take flash pictures or shine lights
directly toward the turtles it will disorient
them. Like us, turtle eyes will maintain the
ghost image of the flash, only the hatchlings
see this as a bright area and will crawl
6. If hatchlings emerge during the day, please
allow them to make their way to the water.
You may chase away predators to help them
make it to the water.
7. If you see a nesting turtle do not crowd
around it and do not harass it. You may
observe nesting from a distance by staying
behind the front flippers of the turtle. No
8. Occasionally turtles will nest during the day.
If you see a daytime nesting sea turtle,
please call the Division of Fish and Wildlife
9. For more information on this and other
animals in the Virgin Islands please visit our
web site at: www.vifishandwildlife.com
PRODUCED IN 2002 by W. Coles
THIS PUBLICATION WAS PRODUCED WITH FUNDS
FROM THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND
RESTORATION PROGRAM (WCRP).
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON
OUR NATIVE ANIMALS CONTACT
DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
6291 ESTATE NAZARETH, 101,
ST. THOMAS, VI 00802
PHONE 340-775-6762 FAX 340-775-3972
45 MARS HILL, ST. CROIX, VI 00840
PHONE 340-772-1955 FAX 340-772-3227