Three marine turtle species regularly occur in the Mediterranean basin:
lat. Caretta Caretta
Caretta caretta has a worldwide distribution, frequenting oceanic and neritic coastal waters of tropical and temperate zones.
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In the Mediterranean, almost all nests of this species are found in the eastern basin, primarily in Greece, Libya, Turkey and Cyprus and, to a lesser extent, in other countries, such as Lebanon, Israel and Tunisia. There are about 7200 clutches laid annually on monitored beaches in the above countries. Genetic studies have shown a population substructure within the Mediterranean, due to the homing behaviour of females, which show a degree of fidelity to their natal site. A consequence is that loss of females in one site cannot be easily compensated by recruiting females from another one and each site should be treated as an independent Management Unit.
In general, during their life loggerhead turtles first frequent open waters and feed upon pelagic prey; then they tend to frequent more shallow waters on the continental shelves where they can feed upon benthic prey.
Significant numbers of loggerhead turtles, originating both from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, frequent the westernmost part of the Mediterranean – between the Strait of Gibraltar and Balearic Islands – and in the Sicilian Channel. Other pelagic areas, like the south Adriatic, Ionian and probably the Levantine basin, are frequented by high numbers of turtles originating from the Mediterranean. Large turtles mainly frequent the shallow areas of the eastern basin, like the Adriatic, the northern coast of Africa, and several others.
Tagging and satellite tracking studies have begun to unveil the migratory behaviour and routes of loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, although the majority of such studies regard adult females from a few nesting sites, especially in Greece and Cyprus. For instance, adult females migrate between the nesting site of Zakynthos (Greece) and the foraging areas in the north Adriatic and the continental shelf off Tunisia. The latter area is also frequented by females nesting in Cyprus. This and other information (like genetic studies) indicate that foraging areas of the eastern Mediterranean are extensively frequented and shared by loggerhead turtles from several nesting sites in different countries.