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Loggerhead Turtle and Other Sea Turtles in Croatia

The Loggerhead turtle is the most widespread of the three sea turtle species in Croatia, and the Adriatic Sea.

Sea turtles, also called marine turtles, are just about the closest things we have to dinosaurs. These ancient creatures have lived in the world’s oceans for more than 150 million years, and they have not really changed much.

They belong to a group of animals known as Reptiles which includes turtles, tortoises, and terrapins, and are believed to be among the longest-living creatures. No one knows for sure how long they live, but, depending on the species, they take 12-40 years to become breeding adults.

These magnificent creatures come in all shapes and sizes. They live in a number of different environments. From giant, slow-moving land-dwelling tortoises and snappy terrapins basking in their fresh-water lagoons, to the graceful sea turtles gliding through our oceans… Check out interesting facts about them.

sea-turtle-in-adriatic-sea

Fun facts about sea turtles:

  •  Sea turtles cannot retract their flippers and head into their shells. Their anatomy makes them agile when under the sea but highly vulnerable when nesting and hatching.
  • The sex of sea turtles, like other reptiles, depends on the temperature in the nest. Warmer nests lead to more females and cooler ones lead to more males.
  • They can hold their breath for five hours underwater. To accomplish this mighty feat they slow their heart rate to up to nine minutes in between heart beats in order to conserve oxygen.
  • Green sea turtles are unique in that they are primarily herbivores, eating mostly seagrasses and algae. This diet is what gives their cartilage and fat a greenish color (not their shells), which is where their name comes from.
  • They usually lay 100-125 eggs per nest and will nest multiple times, about two weeks apart, over several months.
  • Leatherback sea turtles have existed in their current form since the age of the dinosaurs.
  • Since turtles don’t have teeth, they use their beak-like mouth to grasp their food. This beak is made of keratin (the same material human fingernails are made of).
  • Sea turtles can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and they use it as a compass.
  • Turtle shells are made of over 50 bones fused together – so they’re literally wearing their bones on the outside. They also have light, spongy bones that help them float.

Loggerhead turtle and other species in the Adriatic Sea

There are a couple of turtle species in Croatia but loggerhead sea turtle (glavata želva), green turtle (zelena želva) and the leatherback turtle (sedmopruga usminjača) are the three main sea turtle species in the Adriatic Sea. The most common species in the Mediterranean and in the Adriatic Sea is the loggerhead sea turtle. They have been living in the Adriatic for a long time. This is where they feed and spend their winters. Scientists have learned that precisely the North Adriatic is the most important region for the loggerhead turtle in the entire Mediterranean. The greatest number of this species lives, matures, feeds and winters in the North Adriatic. After nesting and laying their eggs, they return to the Adriatic. So, it’s no surprise that their population in the Adriatic is quite large. Scientists estimate there are more than 20.000 sea turtles in the Adriatic. Surveys led by the Blue World Institute show that the main habitat in the Adriatic is the loggerhead. Whereas the green turtle and the leatherback are quite rare.

sea-turtle-and-fish

Protection of sea turtles

The greatest threat to sea turtles is the interaction with humans. Although all marine turtles have a protection status, they still suffer from being caught in fishing activities. It is estimated that over 5,000 turtles are caught in trawling nets each year in the Adriatic Sea. In addition to fishing threats, many of them die each year from eating plastic bags, bottles and other litter that ends up in the sea. Floating plastic bags look like jelly fish, which is common prey for many sea turtles. Tourism development has also affected nesting sites: lights and noise pollution scare adults and disorientate hatchlings.

In 2019 six Mediterranean countries started a project aiming to save endangered populations of sea turtles from the combined threats of tourism, pollution, and fishing. Croatia and Slovenia have also joined this new project.

They are among six countries, including Cyprus, Malta, Italy, and Greece, that joined the “Life Euro Turtles” project. The project aims to protect and raise awareness of where sea turtles live at different stages of life and improve connections between countries on their conservation.

 

sea-turtle-adriatic

What Can You Do to Save Sea Turtles?

  • Contact your local sea turtle stranding network if you see a sick or injured sea turtle.
  • Support sea turtle conservation by getting involved. Support actions that help them.
  • Reduce marine debris that may entangle or be accidentally eaten by sea turtles.
  • Participate in coastal clean-ups and reduce plastic use to keep our beaches and seas clean. The trash in the ocean can harm sea turtles and other creatures that live there.
  • Carry reusable water bottles and shopping bags.
  • Refrain from releasing balloons, they’ll likely end up in the ocean where sea turtles can mistake them for prey and consume them.
  • Do not disturb nesting turtles, nests, or hatchlings.

How to behave when you spot a sea turtle?

  • Go Slow. Sea turtles are commonly found in oceans, bays, sounds, and near shore waters. Remember, turtles have to come up to the surface for air, and it’s sometimes difficult to see them. Boat strikes are a serious threat to them, so slow down and steer around them
  • Watch for sea turtles in the water. Give them at least 50 yards /45 m of space. If you see them closer, put your engine in neutral to avoid injury.
  • Retrieve your mooring system (anchor and ball) before returning to port.
  • Never feed or attempt to feed sea turtles — it is harmful and illegal
  • If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, contact the blue-world.org.
sea-turtle-swimming-in-adriatic

Imagine an adorable fleet of tiny sea turtles flopping their way towards the sea, leaving the beach behind them until their miraculous return, years later, to nest at the exact site of their birth. For lovers of nature and all things cute, an encounter with the sea turtle is an unforgettable experience. But, no matter which part of the Adriatic you choose to visit, there’s no guarantee you’ll actually see one. For those especially keen on marine life, we recommend getting some snorkeling equipment and taking every opportunity to explore the underwater world. You might not encounter a loggerhead turtle, but there are plenty of other “fish” in the sea. 

Snorkeling and diving in Croatia

Croatia offers divers an unreal amount of scuba dives to take part in, with its many islands strewn out into the Adriatic. The indented coastline and relatively shallow water underpin an underwater world with enough variety to make this a dive destination that offers great possibilities to familiarize yourself with the Adriatic flora and fauna. Diving in Croatia as an adventure vacation has exploded in popularity in the last 10 years so you’ll now find diving clubs and centers on nearly every Croatian island as well as dozens of coastal towns. Croatia’s eventful past and the natural beauty of its undersea world lure many divers. The diversity of life, the monumental underwater walls, reefs, shipwrecks and plane wrecks, and an abundance of archaeological sites, just take your pick. The scenery above water is breathtaking, but that is matched below, as well. Certainly, a wide variety of marine life blossoming in the magnificent reefs below the surface will excite the senses. One thing left to say is: Are you ready to explore the underwater secrets of the Adriatic with us? You can start by reading our blog on the best diving sites in Croatia, or the best snorkeling spots around Pula. And then book the perfect yacht that will take you to some of them. Rent some snorkeling sets on your selected catamaran, sailboat, or motorboat in order to fully enjoy and appreciate the underwater beauties of Croatia. We have 4 charter bases, in Split, Slano, Rogoznica and Pula, so take your pick and start exploring.

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