Written by two of the Southeast's foremost authorities on sea turtle conservation, this is an accessible, fully illustrated guide to the species that frequent the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. No one who encounters a sea turtle soon forgets it. The leatherback, for instance, can grow to huge proportions, commonly approaching eight feet in length and more than half a ton in weight. Powerful swimmers, they are also among the deepest divers of all air-breathing sea creatures. Despite these assets, the survival of the leatherback, like that of all sea turtle species, is under constant threat from commercial fishing operations, overdevelopment of nesting grounds, pollution, and predation by introduced species.
The guide opens with comprehensive coverage of the sea turtle's evolution, juvenile and adult life cycles, nesting, diet and feeding, disease and parasites, predators, and conservation issues. Each subsequent chapter is dedicated to a particular turtle species: loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, green sea turtle, hawksbill, and olive ridley.
The account of each species describes distribution, habitats, general appearance, life history and behavior, and conservation. For each species, photographs of hatchlings and adults and a map showing distribution and migration provide further information. Sea turtles have been swimming the seas for one hundred million years. Yet all of the species in this book - indeed, all sea turtles worldwide - are on U.S. and international endangered lists.
Biologists Carol Ruckdeschel and C. Robert Shoop have dedicated their careers to learning about sea turtles - and to ensuring that we understand that we are stakeholders in the fate of these ancient creatures. With this guide in hand, readers will be better equipped to understand sea turtle biology and support sea turtle conservation efforts.
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Carol Ruckdeschel is a naturalist and research biologist based on Cumberland Island, Georgia. C. Robert Shoop was a professor of biological sciences at the University of Rhode Island.