2014-09-11 / Nature

Loggerhead Turtle’s Demise

By Jack Kelly

The sea turtle that washed up at Newport’s Easton’s Beach recently has been identified. According to Skip Graf, Mystic Aquarium staff member, “This was an adult female loggerhead turtle, weighing 117 pounds, and her age was estimated to be about 30 years old. The cause of the turtle’s death has not been established, but that could take some time.”

According to Dr. Bob Kenney, a research marine biologist at the University of Rhode Island, “Judging the age of any sea turtle is very difficult, because they grow very slowly and that growth is dependent on a number of variables including food availability, sickness, pollution and predation. Loggerheads are 25-30 years old when they become adults and they can live to very old ages.”

Kenney has experience with sea turtle research and he explained, “To judge age classes of a loggerhead on a fairly reliable basis, measurements of the shell are required. A flexible tape is used and the length of the shell is measured from the notch in the front to the farthest point at the back. The breakdown of age is classified in this way: 16- 18 inches is a small juvenile, 18-33 inches is a large juvenile, and 33 inches and up is an adult.” Kenney cited the fact that the largest loggerhead sea turtle ever recorded had a shell measurement of seven feet and weighed in at over 500 pounds!

Sea turtles are quite prevalent in Rhode Island waters in the summer, but as the water begins to cool in the fall they migrate south for the winter months.

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