Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle
Caretta caretta caretta (Linnaeus)
This is a large marine turtle, with adults usually from 79 to 114 cm long and weighing 77 to 150 kg. The carapace is reddish-brown and the plates or scutes are often bordered with yellow. The bridge and plastron vary from yellow to yellowish-cream. The head varies from reddish-chestnut to olive brown. The flippers and tail are dark reddish brown above and yellowish-brown below.
Only two Atlantic Loggerheads have been captured in Nova Scotian waters. The first, a juvenile captured three miles off Devil's Island in Halifax Harbour, is recorded in a 1931 painting. The second is an adult captured just off Chebucto Head near Halifax in June 1964. A fibreglass mold was made of the entire turtle, and a life-size model is on display at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History.
Fishermen active on Georges Bank have seen these turtles a number of times. More reports would be welcome, especially with photographs and measurements.
All marine turtles are considered to be endangered species. For many years their eggs have been dug out of nesting sites on sandy beaches in the southern United States and Mexico and the tropics. The adults are captured and used for food, and their skins and shells are used commercially. We should recognize that they are an important part of ocean life and contribute to their conservation by releasing animals which survive being tangled in fishing gear, and not buying turtle products.