Caretta caretta – General information
Sea turtles have a very dangerous life, even before they are “born”/hatched, in embryonal stage. In many places the eggs are grubbed out and eaten by humans. After the little turtles emerged a risky path of life starts. As an easy prey they are hunted from air (for example by Frigate birds) or on land (for example by snakes, mammal etc.). If the turtle offspring reachs the water line, they might be prey of bigger fishes and sharks. Only averages of 20-30 from 1000 turtles are reaching the age of reproduction (20-30 years).Their life span is around 50 years and more.
The Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) is one of seven sea turtles worldwide. This species is the most seen one around Madeira. These turtles hatched off the American coastline or Cape Verde Islands and reach the waters of Madeira and Acores using the ocean current (for example the Gulf stream).
A young turtle is feeding opportunistic on everything she can catch, but preferres jellyfish and other gelatinous animals and later they change their habit of food. The adult turtle feeds predominantly on crustacean and bivalves.
Like any other marine animals also the sea turtle suffers of the pollution of the ocean. Sea turtles do not recognize the difference between plastic waste floating in the ocean and a jelly fish, which is part of their nourishment. Very often they eat by mistake pieces of plastic and die due to this indigestible waste.
Not seldom during our trips we find turtles caught in fishing nets or other waste, sometimes they are also injured. If possible we try to free them and help the animals.
by Astrid Haas