The southeastern United States hosts the world's largest nesting aggregation of the loggerhead turtle.
The Northwest Atlantic Ocean’s loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nesting aggregation is considered to be the largest in the world (Casale & Tucker 2015). Florida hosts approximately 90 percent of the nests associated with this aggregation (Ceriani & Meylan 2015). The majority of this nesting takes place in five counties on the east coast of Florida (Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties). Beaches in these counties represent approximately 20 percent (160 miles) of the 835 miles of beach in Florida where sea turtle nesting activity is monitored.
The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. It has a reddish-brown shell and is named for its large head. Adults can weigh between 200 and 350 pounds and can reach 3 feet in length. Loggerheads typically nest in Florida from April to September.
Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years (average 2.7 years) to lay an average of 4.1 clutches, one about every 14 days (Witherington et al. 2006). Each nest contains an average of 114 eggs (Brost et al. 2015).
To view loggerhead nest density by beach, see the Statewide Atlas of Sea Turtle Nesting Occurrence and Density.
Loggerhead nest density (measured in number of nests per kilometer of beach) by genetic subunit in Florida during the last five-year period (2011-2015). High-density beaches are those having the top 25 percent of density values (red); low-density beaches have the lowest 25 percent (yellow); and beaches with densities between these two categories are defined medium-density beaches (orange). White indicates beaches where green turtles were not observed to have nested during the five-year period.
View Statewide Loggerhead Nesting Data (21 KB)
Brost, B., B. Witherington, A. Meylan, E. Leone, L. Ehrhart, and D. Bagley. 2015. Sea turtle hatchling production from Florida (USA) beaches, 2002-2012, with recommendations for analyzing hatching success. Endangered Species Research 27:53-68.
Witherington, B., R. Herren, and M. Bresette. 2006. Caretta caretta — Loggerhead Sea Turtle. In: Biology and Conservation of Florida Turtles, P.A. Meylan, Ed. Chelonian Research Monographs 3:74-89.