Sea Turtle Facts
Sea Turtle Facts

38 Swimming Sea Turtle Facts

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published January 1, 2019
  • Six of the seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered due to entanglement in fishing gear, loss of nesting sites, loss of feeding sites, poaching, and ocean pollution.[8]
  • Sea turtles do not have visible ears; rather, they have eardrums covered by skin.[6]
  • Turtles can see well underwater, but on land they are nearsighted.[8]
  • The earliest known sea turtle fossils are about 150 million years old. Dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago.[8]
  • Leatherback sea turtles can travel over 10,000 miles annually.[6]
  • Sea Turtles Hatching
    After hatching, baby turtles may take three to seven days to dig their way to the surface
  • The outside temperature determines the sex of a turtle. Warm temperatures produce female hatchlings, whereas cool temperatures produce males.[14]
  • Green sea turtles can stay underwater for nearly five hours. To conserve oxygen, their heart rate signifincatly slows. As much as nine minutes may elapse between heartbeats.[8]
  • Few hatchlings survive to adulthood. Estimates range from one hatchling in one thousand to one in 10,000 will survive to adulthood.[8]
  • Turtles do shed tears, but not because they are sad. They have glands that help empty excess salt from their eyes, which makes it seem like they are crying.[8]
  • Unlike their land relatives, sea turtles cannot retract their head and flippers into their shell. Unfortunately, this makes them more vulnerable to predators and pollution, such as net entanglements.[8]
  • The green turtle is the only sea turtle that is truly an herbivore and loves to eat seagrass. By trimming the seagrass, they prevent it from overgrowing and harming other ocean life.[3]
  • Hawkbill and leatherback turtles think jellyfish are a delicious snack, which helps keep jellyfish populations in check. Unfortunately, plastic often looks like jellyfish, and, consequently, many turtles are dying from eating plastic.[8]
  • Due to global warming, male sea turtles are disappearing from Australia's Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere. The sex of a sea turtle is determined by temperature. Warmer weather produces female turtles.[11]
  • Hundreds of years ago, millions of sea turtles swam in Earth's oceans. Now, there just several thousand in limited areas.[2]
  • And the turtles, of course . . . all the turtles are free, as turtles, and maybe, all creatures should be.

    - Dr. Seuss

  • The green turtle is named after the greenish color of their fat and cartilage and not after the color of their shell.[3]
  • Hawksbill sea turtles live in coral reefs and feed on sponges. Without the hawksbill, sponges would over grow and suffocate the delicate and slow-growing corals.[13]
  • Sea turtle eggs are vital to healthy beaches. Eggshells and unhatched eggs that are left behind provide important nutrients that help cultivate dune vegetation and prevent coastal erosion.[13]
  • More than any other type of turtle, green sea turtles develop Fibropapillomatosis, an often lethal tumor-forming disease. Researchers believe that because green sea turtles forage in especially polluted waters, they are more prone to the disease.[8]
  • Turtles have a built-in GPS system. Sea turtles can detect the angle and intensity of Earth's magnetic field, and they use it to navigate thousands of miles. The have the ability to find an island in the middle of the ocean.[2]
  • The hawksbill sea turtle is named for its jaw. It has a powerful raptor-like jaw and beak perfect for crushing, biting, and tearing food. They can eat an average of 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms) of sponges a year.[4]
  • A leatherback sea turtle can weigh more than 1,000 pounds.[8]
  • Leatherback Turtle Fact
    Leatherback sea turtles are the world's largest turtles

  • While most turtles are solitary, olive ridley turtles nest in large groups called arribadas. Nests can include over 200,000 individual turtles.[8]
  • Autopsies of turtles have found that some of them have their entire digestive tract packed with pieces of plastic bags.[8]
  • The largest specie of sea turtle is the leatherback. It can reach up to 6–9 feet (2–3 meters) long and 3–5 feet (1–1.5 m) wide. They can weigh up to 1500 pounds (700 kilograms).[8]
  • Riding or sitting on sea turtle in the United States in a 3rd degree felony. A woman in Florida was arrested  for molesting a sea turtle after an image of her sitting on one appeared on Snapchat.[1]
  • The ancient Chinese considered sea turtles to be fine dining.[9]
  • Historically, sea turtles were hunted both as a food source and for their decorative shells. Today, many  countries have prohibited the hunting and killing of these endangered animals.[5]
  • Leatherback sea turtles are immune to the deadly box jellyfish sting. They love to eat them, in fact, which helps keep tropical beaches safe for humans.[8]
  • When baby sea turtles hatch, they are drawn to light, which is supposed to be the light of the moon or stars reflecting off the ocean. With human development near beaches, baby sea turtles become easily disoriented and scurry towards civilization instead.[2]
  • Crazy Sea Turtle Facts
    Sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, except when adult females come ashore to lay eggs several times per season every 2 to 5 years

  • Poachers kill over 35,000 sea turtles each year in Baja California to feed a black market demand for turtle meat in Mexico and the United States.[12]
  • Conservationists have asked the Catholic Pope to declare sea turtles as a "meat" as opposed to "fish" in an effort to stop the Mexican tradition of eating endangered turtles during Lent.[12]
  • Even a small piece of plastic can be fatal to a turtle. Small pieces can get trapped in their stomach, which prevents them from swallowing. Plastic can also trap gas inside the turtle's body, which causes the turtle to float. This leads to starvation or makes them an easy target for predators.[7]
  • Scientist estimate that hawksbill populations have decline by 90 percent the past 100 years. Pollution, loss of habitat, and demand for their beautiful shells on the black market have decimated their populations.[6]
  • Trash left on beaches attract inland creatures and other nonnative species near the shore, where they often prey on turtle nests. Additionally, domesticated dogs and cats can dig up several sea turtle nests in one night.[6]
  • Save Sea Turtles
    An estimated 4,600 sea turtles currently die each year in U.S. coastal waters; still, this represents a 90-percent reduction in previous death rates (Placebo365 / GettyImages)
  • Globally, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are caught accidentally in shrimp trawl nets. Because sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe, they drown once they are entangled.[8]
  • Sea turtles have a unique mouth. They have spiny projections pointing inwards toward their stomach. These projections line their entire esophagus and help protect them from jellyfish stings and help break down food.[6]
  • In the last 30 years, the Eastern Pacific leatherback population has declined by 90%.[5]
  • While eating sea turtles is illegal in most countries, it's a good idea not to eat them for health reasons. Sea turtle meat can contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and other environmental contaminants. Sea turtles also contain a variety of bacteria that can cause serious illness.[10]
  • Surprising Sea Turtle Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Fun Sea Turtle Infographic
References

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