Fun Facts about Sea Turtles
Sea turtles are unique creatures. They are one of the oldest continuous living species on the planet are are one of the few reptiles who survived the dinosaur extinction.
The sea turtles live in oceans for the majority of their life. Males never leave the oceans, however, the female will go onshore when it is time to lay eggs. Females choose to lay their eggs on the same beach where they were born. No matter how long ago they were born, the females always find the same beach were their lives began. The breeding cycle takes about two years and each cycle allows the turtles to nest up to 7 times. Between 60 and 200 eggs are placed in each nest.
The gender of the eggs is determined by the temperature in which they incubate. The higher the temperature, the more likely the eggs will produce females. If it is cooler then a majority of the eggs will produce male turtles. The halfway temperature where we observe a change in the gender is around 85F. See the above picture which is a greeting card featuring a female sea turtle.
The eggs take 6 to 10 weeks to hatch. Each hatchling has to dig itself out of the nest, which could take up to a week. The baby turtles then move toward the sea when it is dark and under the moonlight. These helpless creatures need to reach the safety of the water before birds or land mammals find and eat them. On average only 1 out of a 1,000 hatchlings survive until adulthood.
The small turtles live in the open ocean and can be found in the currents like Gulf Stream, off of the east coast of the United States. Here they can travel up to 1,400 miles to feeding grounds. Most warm and temperate oceans of the world have thriving sea turtles. Since they live their entire lives in the ocean, an exact population and their behavior is mostly unknown.
There are 7 different types of sea turtles alive today. The largest are called leatherbacks and can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, reaching lengths of over 6 ½ feet. Another type, the loggerheads, are a species who have large thick heads, largest amongst the sea turtle family. Loggerheads also have powerful jaws that are used, among other things, to crush clams. Their diet also includes jellyfish, crabs and lobsters. The smallest of the sea turtles is the Kemp’s Ridley. It is only 30 inches long and weighs only 80 to 100 pounds.
Unlike land turtles and tortuous, their distant relatives, sea turtles cannot hide their heads inside their shells. They have colorings of yellow, white, green and black that is used as their camouflage to make them blend into various backgrounds. When sea turtles are young, they hide in the sea kelp, a plant that they also eat. As they grow they have to fend off sharks and other marine life to survive.
Of the 7 different species of sea turtles 6 of them are on the critically endanger species list. The only exception is the Flatback species which is not critically endangered, but is still endangered. This species can be found off the northern coast of Australia.
The Sea turtles are a wondrous animal which are peaceful and graceful when they swim in the open oceans of the world.
by Douglas Gray
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