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8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are amazing marine reptiles—and they’re some of the world’s oldest creatures. Some believe turtles are over 200 million years old and evolved before mammals, birds, snakes, lizards and crocodiles. Read on for some astonishing facts about sea turtles and how you can help conserve their habitat.

Sea Turtles Facts

  • There are seven remaining species of turtles left today including the green sea turtle, leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill, flatback, Olive Ridley, and Kemp’s Ridley. The largest are the leatherbacks that can weigh around 2,000 pounds and measure up to seven feet in length.
  • Turtles live everywhere in the world with the exceptions of Antarctica. Six of the seven species live in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Turtles have a hard life. From the time they are hatched they must make their way into the ocean fighting for survival against predators such as crabs and seabirds. They follow the currents of the ocean requiring a “raft” or floating seaweed during their initial stage at sea. Turtles must survive the ocean’s ecosystem throughout their life. Those who survive return to their “birth beach” approximately 30 years later to nest their eggs once they’ve reached sexual maturity.
  • The top of the turtle’s shell is called the carapace, which comprises of 60 bones and plates that provides the turtle its protection and shell strength.
  • The sand’s temperature determines, or affects, the birth of each sex. Cool sands produce more males and warmer sands produce more females.
  • Turtles live a solitary life. Most of their life is spent alone with the exceptions of mating and migration. They are not territorial creatures, so it is common for them to “cohabitate” with others, but still do “daily things” on their own schedule.
  • Sea turtles can dive more than one thousand feet into the water in order to seek food. The sea turtle diet differs, just like humans. Some are herbivores, and others are omnivores that eat a variety of sea grass, algae, sponges, and jellyfish. Due to their long existence on the planet, sea turtles have developed immunity against jellyfish and now use them as food.
  • Some turtles absorb oxygen through their skin around their flippers and neck. This allows them to swim, sleep and hibernate in the water for long periods of time. Their heart rate can drop as low as one beat per every nine minutes.

Conservation Efforts

  • Turtles are endangered due to ocean pollution and reduction in nesting spots.
  • Sea turtles are attracted to bright lights. People who reside near sea turtle nesting areas can help by removing recreational equipment and minimizing bright light from the beach during nesting season; avoid bonfires on the beach when hatchlings are crawling around.
  • Some turtles “sunbathe” during the day. Do not touch or feed the turtle. Leave the turtles alone and make sure garbage and trash is removed from the beach.
  • At night, avoid beach walks or activity on the beach. No matter how quiet you are, unrecognizable noise will scare sea turtles back into the sea.
  • You can also get involved with sea turtle volunteer projects that are held in important nesting areas such as Costa Rica. Volunteers are needed to do a variety of tasks that benefit the turtle’s ecosystem.
  • Pacsafe is an advocate for sea turtles. Please visit this link to learn more about the 2015 Pacsafe Turtle Fund.

images ©istockphoto

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