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Faces of FADS: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

by Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna
May 20, 2013

Faces of FADS: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

The loggerhead sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world and is known for its large head, strong jaws and the distinct reddish-brown shading of its shell. Loggerheads swim mostly in the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult Loggerheads can reach speeds as high as 15 mph as they move through the water.

FADs are man-made objects used by fishermen to attract schools of tuna that will often congregate around the FAD. Once enough tuna have crowded around, the fishermen will scoop everything up in a large net. However, tuna are not the only marine animals that are attracted to FADs, and experts estimate each year as much as 182,500 tons of bycatch of more than 300 different species are caught in FADs, much of which is thrown dead back to the sea.

In our new blog series, Faces of FADs, we will introduce you to some of the marine species that are most at risk from FADs.

Victim I: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Type: Reptile

Diet: Carnivore (jellyfish, conchs, crabs, fish)

Average life span in the wild: More than 50 years

Size: 36 in (90 cm)

Weight: 253 lbs (115 kg)

Conservation Status: Endangered

Interesting Fact: Female loggerheads don’t reach maturity until at about 35 years of age.

Profile: The loggerhead sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world and are known for their large heads, strong jaws and the distinct reddish-brown shading of its shell. Loggerheads swim mostly in the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult Loggerheads can reach speeds as high as 15 mph as they move through the water.

Threat from FADs: Once one of the most prevalent creatures found at sea, today loggerheads are internationally classified as endangered. While it’s no longer legal to intentionally catch or hunt loggerheads, many of the turtles are accidently harmed and killed as bycatch in fisheries that use FADs; the devices are considered one of the greatest threats facing the global population of sea turtles.

The largest decline in the loggerhead’s population has occurred in the Pacific Ocean, where it has decreased by as much as 86 percent over the past three decades. The World Wildlife Federation estimates that 80,000 loggerhead turtles are killed annually as FAD bycatch. While scientists have long estimated that thousands of marine turtles die each year in the Pacific Ocean, a 2010 scientific report on global bycatch of turtles by global fisheries suggests that those estimates are severely underestimated.

For more in-depth information on loggerhead sea turtles and the devastating effects of FADs, check out these reports and studies:

A Growing FADGreenpeace

In?uence of environmental and ?shery parameters on loggerhead sea turtle by-catch in the longline fishery in the Azores archipelago and implications for conservationJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom