Comments: Open sea to more than 500 miles from shore, mostly over continental shelf, and in bays, estuaries, lagoons, creeks, and mouths of rivers; mainly warm temperate and subtropical regions not far from shorelines. Off North Carolina, loggerheads inhabited waters of 13-28 C (available range 5-32 C) (Coles and Musick 2000). Adults occupy various habitats, from turbid bays to clear waters of reefs. Subadults occur mainly in nearshore and estuarine waters. Hatchlings move directly to sea after hatching, often float in masses of sea plants (Sargassum); may remain associated with sargassum rafts perhaps for 3-5 years. In Chesapeake Bay, occurs mainly in deeper channels, usually at river mouths or in the open bay.
Nesting occurs usually on open sandy beaches above high-tide mark, seaward of well-developed dunes. Nests primarily on high-energy beaches on barrier strands adjacent to continental land masses in warm temperate and subtropical regions; steeply sloped beaches with gradually sloped offshore approaches are favored (CSTC 1990). Renesting generally occurs at the same beach or within a few km; generally returns to the same area in subsequent years if habitat remains suitable. Individuals sometimes change to different nesting beach within a single nesting season; has changed to sites up to several hundred km away (see Eckert et al. 1989). Maximum hatching success and hatchling size occur when sand moisture level is about 25%. In Florida, nesting on urban beaches was strongly correlated with the presence of tall objects (trees, buildings), which apparently shield the beach from city lights (Salmon et al. 1995). See Garmestani et al. (2000) for information on nest-site selection in southwestern Florida.