Caretta caretta | UAE National Red List of Herpetofauna: Amphibians & Terrestrial Reptiles, Sea Snakes & Marine Turtles

Caretta caretta | (Linnaeus, 1758)
Countries in Assessment
United Arab Emirates
Country ISO code(s)
Does the assessment cover a marine EEZ area(s)?
Scope (Assessment)
Taxonomic Group
Taxonomic Group Level 2
Assessed taxon level
Taxon distribution as listed in assessment
Presence of this species is confirmed within the United Arab Emirates marine territorial waters; however, it is only known from occasional sightings (Soorae et al. 2010). The species is an infrequent visitor within the Arabian Gulf and it does not nest at any of the known Arabian Gulf nesting sites (Pilcher et al. 2014, EAD 2016). The species forages in the Gulf of Oman and nests in significant numbers on Masirah Island (Hamann et al. 2013), and a small proportion of turtles from there were found to migrate into the northern Arabian Gulf to Bahrain and Qatar (Pilcher et al. 2014, 2015). The Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) undertook a three-year study of stranding records from the Gulf of Oman which included this species.The North West Indian Ocean Loggerhead subpopulation represents a distinct subpopulation or regional management unit (Wallace et al. 2010, Shamblin et al. 2014). Within the region, the largest nesting populations occur and feeding areas are distributed in the southern and eastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula (Oman, Yemen), including the southern portion of the Arabian Gulf.The Loggerhead Turtle has a worldwide distribution in subtropical to temperate regions of the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans (Wallace et al. 2010). The North West Indian Ocean subpopulation breeds in Oman and Yemen (Baldwin et al. 2003). Its marine distribution extends from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Gulf (Al Mohanna and Meakins 2000, Hamann et al. 2013, Rees et al. 2010). One of the largest breeding aggregations of the species occurs on Masirah Island in Oman (Rees et al. 2010). Casale (2015) gave the breeding distribution of the North West Indian Loggerhead subpopulation as Oman and Yemen, and its marine habitats extent as from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Gulf.
Habitats and Ecology
Ecological system type
Terrestrial system
Freshwater system
Marine system
Habitat details as listed in assessment
This species of turtle nests on insular and mainland sandy beaches throughout the temperate and subtropical regions, however, there are no known nesting sites within the UAE. The main diet appears to be fish, as well as cephalopods, sand dollars, gastropods and crabs (EPAA Sharjah study). Little is known of marine habitat use for this species in the UAE. No basking is known on beaches in the UAE.Mating has to happen close to the nesting beach, so mating most likely occurs close to Masirah Island.Adult loggerhead turtles are highly migratory and use a wide range of broadly separated localities and habitats during their lifetimes (Bolten and Witherington 2003). Within the UAE region, movements of adult females in the inter-nesting and post-nesting periods is described from satellite telemetry studies conducted on Masirah Island where 44 turtles were satellite tracked between 2006 and 2012 (Willson et al. 2015). Based on this information, the full regional extent of post-nesting movements extends as far as the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, whilst the predominant (approx. 90% of all tagged turtles) direction of post-migration movement is towards the Gulf of Aden. The EPAA is conducting a study on the diet component of loggerhead turtles from the Gulf of Oman.Upon leaving the nesting beach, hatchlings begin an oceanic phase, perhaps floating passively in major current systems (gyres) that serve as open-ocean developmental grounds (Bolten and Witherington 2003). After 4-19 years in the oceanic zone, Loggerheads recruit to neritic developmental areas rich in benthic prey or epipelagic prey where they forage and grow until maturity at 10-39 years (Avens and Snover 2013). Upon attaining sexual maturity Loggerhead Turtles undertake breeding migrations between foraging grounds and nesting areas at remigration intervals of one to several years with a mean of 2.5-3 years for females (Schroeder et al. 2003), while males would have a shorter remigration interval (e.g., Hays et al. 2010, Wibbels et al. 1990). Migrations are carried out by both males and females and may traverse oceanic zones spanning hundreds to thousands of kilometres (Plotkin 2003). During non-breeding periods adults reside at coastal neritic feeding areas that sometimes coincide with juvenile developmental habitats (Bolten and Witherington 2003).
Is there a map available in assessment?
Assessed status
Asessment status in full
Data deficient
Assessment status abreviation
Assessment rationale/justification
Presence of this species is confirmed within the United Arab Emirates marine territorial waters, however, it is only known from occasional sightings that probably result from passage of animals from the main breeding site (Masirah Island) in the Gulf of Oman to foraging areas in the Arabian Gulf, and there are no nesting beaches in UAE waters.The Loggerhead turtle is considered Data Deficient for the UAE national Red List as there are no data on population size and trend, nor on the scale of impact of known threats.
About the assessment
Assessment year
Assessors/contributors/reviewers listed
UAE National Red List Workshop
Affliation of assessor(s)/contributors/reviewers listed on assessment
Assessor affiliation specific
Criteria system
Criteria system specifics
IUCN v3.1 + Regional Guidelines v4.0
Criteria system used
Criteria Citation
IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1, Second edition. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. iv + 32pp pp. And IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iii + 41pp.
Endemic to region
Endemism Notes
Is an endemic?: Not_assigned
Threats listed in assessment
The main threats to the North West Indian Ocean Loggerhead subpopulation are represented by fisheries (as bycatch), egg predation and collection, and coastal development (Hamann et al. 2013), although quantification of the impact to the subpopulation within UAE marine territory is not available.Threats to Loggerheads vary in time and space, and in relative impact to populations. Threat categories affecting marine turtles, including Loggerheads, were described by Wallace et al. (2011) as: Boat strike In Abu Dhabi, it was found that 20% of all stranded turtles died from vessel strikes (EAD 2016). The EPAA Sharjah is in the process of concluding a three-year study on the impact of boat strikes on marine turtles, including this species. Fisheries bycatch and targeted fisheries In Abu Dhabi, 52% of marine turtle mortalities were attributed to entanglement, however, no loggerheads were found in this study (EAD 2016). The impact of incidental capture of marine turtles in fishing gear targeting other species (bycatch) is not known. The impact of ghost fishing gear requires further research. Coastal development There has been rapid and extensive coastal development within UAE coastal areas. It is likely that this has impacted turtle habitat, but there is no information available on this. In addition, human-induced alteration of coastal environments due to construction, dredging, beach modification, etc. may impact this species.Turtles have been found within water intakes of desalination plants but it is not known if this species is impacted by this threat. Pollution and pathogens Marine pollution and debris affect marine turtles (i.e., through ingestion or entanglement, disorientation caused by artificial lights). The EPAA Sharjah is in the process of concluding a three-year study on the impact of oil spills on marine turtles which include this species. Oil spills represent a significant threat to marine turtles. The impacts of pervasive pathogens (for example, the fibropapilloma virus) on turtle health in the UAE requires further research. Climate change Current and future impacts from climate change on marine turtles and their habitats (increasing sand temperatures on nesting beaches affecting hatchling sex ratios, sea level rise, storm frequency and intensity affecting nesting habitats, etc.) in the UAE requires further research, especially with regard to the already high surface water temperature, as the Arabian Gulf regularly experiences sustained sea surface temperatures of over 30'°C (Pilcher et al. 2014).The relative impacts of individual threats to all Loggerhead subpopulations were assessed by Wallace et al. (2011). Fisheries bycatch was classified as the highest threat to Loggerheads globally, followed by coastal development and human consumption of eggs, meat, or other products. Due to lack of information, pollution and pathogens were only scored as affecting three subpopulations and climate change was only scored for two subpopulations. Enhanced efforts to assess and reduce the impacts of these threats on Loggerheads should be a high priority for future conservation efforts.
Conservation Measures

Conservation measures:
Conservation measures notes:
Required conservation measures:

Scientific Name Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Caretta caretta Animalia Chordata Reptilia Testudines Cheloniidae Caretta