NHC Marine Product Descriptions

Turtle Expert Working Group. 2009. An assessment of the loggerhead turtle population in the western North Atlantic Ocean. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-575.

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RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL: The loggerhead occurs throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. However, the majority of loggerhead nesting is at the western rims of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The most recent reviews show that only two loggerhead nesting aggregations have greater than 10,000 females nesting per year: South Florida (U.S.) and Masirah (Oman). Those nesting aggregations with 1,000 to 9,999 females nesting each year are Georgia through North Carolina (U.S.), Quintana Roo and Yucatán (Mexico), Brazil, Cape Verde Islands (Cape Verde, eastern Atlantic off Africa), and Western Australia (Australia). Smaller nesting aggregations with 100 to 999 nesting females annually occur in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (U.S.), Dry Tortugas (U.S.), Cay Sal Bank (The Bahamas), Tongaland (South Africa), Mozambique, Arabian Sea Coast (Oman), Halaniyat Islands (Oman), Cyprus, Peloponnesus (Greece), Island of Zakynthos (Greece), Turkey, Queensland (Australia), and Japan. Loggerheads nest within the U.S. from Texas to Virginia, although the largest nesting concentrations are found in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. About 80 percent of loggerhead nesting in the southeastern U.S. occurs in six Florida counties (Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties). Total estimated nesting in the U.S. has fluctuated between 47,000 and 90,000 nests each year over the past two decades. Adult loggerheads are known to make considerable migrations between foraging areas and nesting beaches. During non-nesting years, adult females from U.S. beaches are distributed in waters off the eastern U.S. and throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Yucatan.


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MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION: In the southeastern U.S., major nest protection efforts and beach habitat protection are underway for most of the significant nesting areas, and significant progress has been made in reducing mortality from commercial fisheries in U.S. waters with the enforcement of turtle excluder device regulations. Many coastal counties and communities in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have developed lighting ordinances to reduce hatchling disorientations. Important U.S. nesting beaches have been and continue to be acquired for long-term protection. The migratory nature of loggerheads severely compromises these efforts once they move outside U.S. waters, however, since legal and illegal fisheries activities in some countries are causing high mortality of loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. Due to the long range migratory movements of sea turtles between nesting beaches and foraging areas, long-term international cooperation is absolutely essential for recovery and stability of nesting populations.