The Florida Keys Feature


Turtle Time

Five species of threatened and endangered sea turtles frequent the waters of the Florida Keys. The loggerhead, the most common, is named for the shape of its noggin. It grows to a heft of 300 pounds. It's the only one of the local turtles listed as threatened rather than endangered.

The vegetarian green turtle was once hunted for its meat, which has brought populations to their endangered stage. It can reach an impressive 500 pounds.

Named for the shape of its mouth, the hawksbill turtle is a relative lightweight at 150 pounds. It prefers rocks and reefs for habitat. The Keys are the only U.S. breeding site for the endangered critter.

The largest reptile alive, the leatherback turtle can weigh in at up to 2,000 pounds, attained from a diet of mainly jellyfish.

The rarest of local sea turtles, the Kemps Ridley is named after a Key West fisherman. A carnivore, it grows to 100 pounds.

The biggest threats to sea-turtle survival include fibropapilloma tumors, monofilament fishing lines (which can sever their flippers), entanglement in ropes and nets, run-ins with boat propellers, and oil spills.

Updated: 2013-10-08

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