| Ecological Descriptors
|S, Co, R
Head is very large with heavy strong jaws. Carapace is bony without ridges and has large, non-overlapping, rough scutes (scales) present with 5 lateral scutes. The front lateral scute touches the nuchal scute (unlike other turtles) Carapace is heart shaped. Front flippers are short and thick with 2 claws, while the rear flippers can have 2 or 3 claws. Carapace is a reddish-brown with a yellowish-brown plastron. Hatchlings have a dark-brown carapace with flippers pale brown on margins.
Typically 2.5 to 3.5 feet in carapace length (80 to 110 cm) and weighing between 155 and 375 pounds (70 to 170 kg).
It gets its name from its exceptionally large head.
Found in coastal bays and estuaries, as well as in the shallow water along continental shelves. In the region they tend to be found around Cuba, Florida etc and are rarely sighted in Antigua.
Primarily carnivorous and feed mostly on shellfish that live on the bottom of the ocean. They eat crabs, clams, mussels, and other invertebrates. Their powerful jaw muscles help them to easily crush the shellfish.
Not recorded to have nested in Antigua
Elsewhere they nest at intervals of 2 to 4 years. They lay 3 to 6 nests per season, approximately 12 to 14 days apart. Lays average of between 100 to 126 eggs in each nest. Eggs incubate for about 60 days.
(C) John Soward