Turtle eggs between threats and conservation initiatives

Photo Credit: Florida Memory

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Collecting loggerhead turtle eggs (Florida west coast 1900 to 1919)



In some places turtle meat and eggs are considered important food source to local people while in other places meat and eggs are considered a delicacy. Others customarily consume sea turtle meat in observance of religious holidays. Turtle eggs have been prized and thought among locals to act as aphrodisiacs, although there is no evidence to suggest that.

The inserted picture was taken between 1900-1919 on Florida west coast showing the removal of loggerhead turtle eggs; no more details was given.

Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) spend most of their lives in the open ocean and in shallow coastal waters. Females come ashore for constructing nests and deposit her eggs. This turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay an average of four egg clutches/season of about 120 eggs each.  Usually two or three years will elapse between a female’s nesting seasons.

Because of the high demand on turtle eggs, hunters (violators) comb the beaches during the nesting season at night looking for turtle nests and then take the eggs, and sell it in a big business. Even though, the loggerheads are considered an endangered species and are protected by the IUCN, the violations continue whereas turtle meat and eggs are consumed.

Conservationists and volunteers cooperate with official workers in the conservation of turtles. They search the coastline for nests and if necessary, they may relocate the nests for protection from threats, such as high spring tides and predators. They may also bring the nested eggs –whenever necessary- to a local hatchery where baby turtles could hatch safely before returning them to the sea.

Finally, despite the laws protecting sea turtles in most countries, the illegal trade of eggs, meat, and shells of turtles continues to be a threat especially when this illegal trade provides income to many people. In order for the conservation strategies to be effective, integrated approach should be considered including creating awareness among locals, patrolling nesting beaches, relocating eggs to hatcheries and launching ecotourism based on sea turtles.

Note: Even though there is no available information on the picture except its caption, I guess and hope that what shown is a part of the conservation initiatives.

Florida Memory reference: Removing loggerhead turtle eggs – Florida west coast. Between 1900 and 1919. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.



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