21 Interesting Sea Turtle Facts: That You May Not Know

Sea turtles, a magnificent group of reptiles, are known for their grace and beauty in the water. They travel great distances to remote beaches to ensure the survival of their species. In the United States, there are six major species of sea turtles, including the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, Kemp’s Ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and Olive Ridley.

Sadly, these species are considered endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act, making it one of the most heartbreaking facts about sea turtles.

Various factors, such as human actions, climate change, marine debris, and oil spills, have significantly impacted the sea turtle population.

Despite their existence for more than 100 million years, surviving even after the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, sea turtles are now facing terrifying threats from humans.

The endangerment of these ancient creatures is devastating. In addition to human activities, sea turtles face other dangers, such as entanglement, loss of habitat, and consuming their eggs and meat.

Amazing Facts About Sea Turtles.

Life Span And Reproduction In Sea Turtles

With a lifespan of 50 years or more, sea turtles are one of many turtle species that can live for an extended period. It takes several decades for a sea turtle to reach sexual maturity, usually around 20 to 30 years, after which they can continue reproducing for the next ten years.

Anatomy Of A Sea Turtle’s Shell

A sea turtle’s most prominent feature is its shell, which is large and made of bone. The shell serves as a protective barrier against predators and abrasions. It has two parts, the top shell is called the carapace, and the bottom shell is called the plastron.

The sea turtle’s shell also has two layers. The first layer consists of flattened bone plates that fuse with the ribs as they mature, while the second layer comprises keratin scales or scutes that offer additional protection and help prevent water loss.

The Impressive Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Known for their massive heads and powerful jaws, loggerhead sea turtles are among the largest of all hard-shelled turtles.

These turtles have reddish-brown, heart-shaped shells and use their front flippers for swimming through the water while using their hind flippers for balance and maneuvering. Typically, their weight is around 113 kilograms or 250 pounds, and they are about 3 feet or 0.9 meters long.

Crucial Roles Of Sea Turtles In Ocean And Beach Ecosystems

Sea turtles play a critical role in their natural habitats. In the oceans, sea turtles graze on seagrass, helping to maintain seagrass bed health. The hatched or even the unhatched eggs that do not reach the ocean serve as a nutrient source for dune vegetation.

The Impressive Size And Unique Features Of Leatherback Turtles

One of the largest living turtles, the leatherback, also known as the lute or leathery turtle, is among the heaviest modern reptiles. These turtles are easily identifiable due to their lack of bony shells and leather-like skin. Leatherback turtles typically weigh between 200 to 700 kilograms or 440-1543 pounds. And can grow up to 7 feet or 2.1 meters in length.

Unique Features Of Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Hawksbill sea turtles have a unique physical feature: their long, narrow beak. Compared to other species of sea turtles, hawksbills are not as large, reaching up to 45 inches or 3.75 feet in length and weighing around 145 pounds or 65.77 kilograms. When young, they have heart-shaped shells that elongate as they mature.

Sea Turtles Are As Old As 400 years

Some sea turtles have been observed to live beyond their estimated lifespan, with one notable individual being exceptionally old.

At the Guangzhou Aquarium in China, a sea turtle was reported to have reached the age of 400 years old, according to shell testing performed by a taxonomic professor.

Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination In Most Sea, Turtles

Most sea turtles have temperature-dependent sex, implying that the sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature it experiences.

Cooler temperatures produce male hatchlings, while warmer temperatures produce females. According to research, if sea turtle eggs incubate below 81.86ºF (27.7ºC), hatchlings will be male, whereas those that incubate above 87.8°F (31ºC) will be female.

Kemp’s Ridley – The Smallest Species Of Sea Turtles Named After A Fisherman

Kemp’s ridley is known as the smallest sea turtle species. These turtles typically measure around 2 feet or 24 inches long and weigh about 100 pounds or 45 kilograms.

The species is named after a fisherman Richard M. Kemp, who provided the first known report about them in 1906. Although Kemp’s Ridleys are primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico, they also occur in the Atlantic Ocean.

Food Preferences Of Sea Turtles Vary By Species: A Look At Carnivorous, Omnivorous, And Herbivorous Turtles

Sea turtles’ food preferences differ depending on their species. Some species are omnivores or herbivores, while others are carnivores. For instance, hawksbill sea turtles tend to consume mollusks, anemones, and crustaceans.

Loggerhead turtles, on the other hand, mainly eat food that is easy to chew or consume, such as crabs and sea urchins. Kemp’s Ridley turtles prefer to eat fish, crabs, and various mollusk species.

Green Sea Turtles: A closer look At Their Distinctive Features

The skin of green sea turtles is greenish in color, which is how they got their name. Despite not having green shells, they are considered one of the largest sea turtle species, weighing approximately 700 pounds or 317 kilograms. Green sea turtles have relatively small heads that they cannot retract back into their heart-shaped shells.

Jellyfish: A Common Prey For Sea Turtles

Sea turtles, including leatherback turtles, feed on jellyfish. Like their terrestrial counterparts, sea turtles consume anything they can grab with their mouths.

Jellyfish are among the easiest prey to catch in the ocean. Despite popular belief, sea turtles are not adversely affected by any chemical build-up from consuming jellyfish that could intoxicate or create a euphoric effect.

Turtles Eat Jellyfish Without Getting Stung

Sea turtles are not affected by jellyfish stings. These marine animals have evolved specific adaptations that enable them to consume jellyfish without the sting.

The scales on their bodies act as a shield against the jellyfish’s venom. In addition, sea turtles have papillae, which are small nipple-like structures in their mouth and esophagus that aid in digesting their prey after ingestion.

Sea Turtles’ Navigation System: The Earth’s Magnetic Field

When it is time to lay her own eggs, a female sea turtle returns to the beach where she hatches, some species travel significant distances during the 10 to 20 years between hatching and first nesting.

Researchers produced magnetic fields in the laboratory and discovered that sea turtles could detect the Earth’s magnetic field and use it as an orientation cue.

Leatherback Sea Turtles: Masters Of Jellyfish Capture

Leatherback sea turtles can capture jellyfish within a mere 22 seconds and ingest them in as little as one minute. These turtles can rapidly grab up to a dozen jellyfish and leave no remnants behind.

Beach Nesting Habits Of Female Sea Turtles: Digging, Laying, And Covering Eggs

Female sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the beach, typically at night. They search for a suitable location to create a nest and usually dig a hole that is 15 to 19.6 inches (40 to 50 centimeters) deep.

Depending on the species, they may lay between 50 to 350 soft-shelled eggs. Once the eggs are laid, they cover the nest with sand and return to the ocean. The entire process can take between 30 to 60 minutes.

From Incubation To Hatching: The Journey Of Sea Turtle Eggs

Sea turtle eggs typically incubate for 50 to 60 days. The eggs in a single nest will hatch around the same time, and the hatchlings will use their beaks to break out of their eggshells, dig through the sand, and make their way to the ocean.

The hatchlings usually emerge at night, which reduces their vulnerability to predators. However, the Kemp’s Ridley turtle, in contrast, tends to lay its eggs during the day.

Sea Turtles Nesting On South Padre Island: Five Species Identified

On the island of South Padre in Cameron County, Texas, sea turtles have found their home. Kemp’s Ridley, green sea turtle, leatherback, loggerhead, and hawksbill, all five species of sea turtles, can be found here.

Additionally, a rehabilitation center on the island monitors, rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured sea turtles.

Remarkable Breath-Holding Abilities Of Sea Turtles

Sea turtles, much like other reptiles, possess lungs and require air to breathe. Consequently, they must resurface periodically during dives.

However, an astounding fact about sea turtles is their ability to hold their breath for a duration of 45 minutes to an hour while active. Furthermore, some sea turtles can hold their breath for up to 2 hours while at rest or during slumber.

The Threat Of Climate Change On Sea Turtles

Sea turtles and other marine creatures are significantly impacted by climate change. Beach erosion caused by frequent and severe storms can flood sea turtle nests, and hot sand can affect the natural sex ratio, producing more females.

Furthermore, climate change also significantly impacts coral reefs, which are critical to the survival of sea turtles.

sea turtle infographic

Chronic Disease In Sea Turtles

Fibropapillomatosis is a tumor-forming disease that can be chronic and even fatal for sea turtles. According to recent studies, green sea turtles that forage in waters experiencing eutrophication, or an organic matter increase that leads to algal blooms, are more prone to developing FP. Human activities such as stormwater run-off contribute to eutrophication.

At the end of the article, we learned some amazing facts about sea turtles. To know more about such amazing facts, visit our website and enjoy reading facts.

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