Madeira Sea Turtle Species
What marine turtle species do we see?
The most common species of marine turtle that we see on our marine wildlife tours is the Loggerhead sea turtle. They are the largest of the hard shelled marine turtles and have been recorded at over 2 meters long weighing over 350 kg and can live for 70 years. It is a cosmopolitan species found in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific oceans.
Typically we see much smaller individual turtles as Madeira is in the path of the Gulf current where hatch lings will spend the first 5-7 years of their lives, offshore and living in sea mats of Sargassum algae. The warm current moves them through the northern Atlantic and past Madeira. So the Loggerheads we see are often sub adults that have not yet reached adult hood and are still enjoying the currents of the Gulf stream.
Many of the Loggerhead Sea Turtles we see in Madeira come from 2 distinct breeding areas; in the Cape Verde islands and along the south eastern coast of the USA. They are omnivorous with the largest number of food sources of any marine turtle. As adults feed on bottom dwelling gastropods, crustaceans, sponge, algae, jellyfish, vascular plants and many species of invertebrates.