Scientific Name: Caretta caretta Fijian name: ‘tuvonu’
The ‘tuvonu’ is known for it’s relatively large head (thus the name Loggerhead). The carapace length of the adult averages about 100cm and weighs about 165kg. Record weights and carapace lengths are 227kg and 114cm, respectively with the reddish-brown carapace consisting of five or more pleural scutes. The broad head varies from reddish-olive brown to yellow. The limbs are modified as flippers. Adult males are distinguished by long tails that extend beyond the rear carapace in addition to a narrowing of the carapace that tapers towards the rear. Hatchlings are dull brown in color with an average size at hatching is 45mm or around 2inches long and an average weight of 20g.
The loggerhead is widely distributed within its range. It may be found hundreds of miles out to sea, as well as in inshore areas such as bays, lagoons, creeks, ship channels, and the mouths of large rivers. Coral reefs, rocky places, and ship wrecks are often used as feeding areas. Loggerheads occupy three different ecosystems during their lives—the terrestrial zone, the oceanic zone, and the “neritic” zone. Loggerheads nest on ocean beaches, generally preferring high energy, relatively narrow, steeply sloped, coarse-grained beaches. Immediately after hatchlings emerge from the nest, they begin a period of frenzied activity. During this active period, hatchlings move from their nest to the surf, swim and are swept through the surf zone, and continue swimming away from land for about one to several days.
Loggerheads have a global distribution throughout tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters. It occurs in the waters of coral and rocky reefs, seagrass beds and muddy bays.
There is little or no record of any nesting in Fiji. However, there have been sightings recorded for Nasese, Lau and Mamanuca Groups, Taveuni and Yadua Island.
Threats for the loggerhead is the same for the hawksbill and green turtle, with much population being under threat through much habitat loss and overharvesting. The greatest cause of decline and the continuing primary threat to loggerhead turtle populations worldwide is incidental capture in fishing gear, primarily in long-lines and gillnets, but also in trawls, traps and pots, and dredges. Directed harvest for loggerheads still occurs in many places and is a serious and continuing threat to loggerhead recovery.
Loggerheads, like hawksbills are highly migratory species, thus conservation efforts may not be as effective if other countries do not assist in the initiative. Loggerhead turtles are protected by various international treaties and agreements as well as national laws. Loggerhead turtles are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which means that international trade of this species is prohibited. Green turtles are listed in Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and are protected under the following instruments of CMS: the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia (IOSEA) and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa.