There are seven different species of truly Majestic Sea Turtles, that populate our oceans, some of them for around 110 million years. I cringe at the thought that a large percentage of our population have no idea that they are endangered and that they play a VITAL role in our marine habitats.
Some of them live in the colourful reefs of the Coral Triangle and sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific and some in the shallow sea grass waters of the Indian Ocean.
Sea turtles have a cold blooded metabolism and are four legged vertebrates with scales covering their body, thus, they are classified marine reptiles. Despite their size, as they grow up to 6feet long and can weigh a whopping three quarters of a ton, they move graciously and effortlessly almost in slow motion through the ocean waters.
The HEARTbeat of Sea Turtles
Sea turtles, like most reptiles, have three-chambered hearts, two atria and one ventricle. Sea Turtles have a heart rate of about 25 beats a minute.
The Three Chambered Heart Of A Sea Turtle
Their heart rate will drop to 10 beats per minute within 6 hours of their oxygen being removed. Their heart rate could drop to one beat per minute in the case of total oxygen starvation, should the sea turtle be very relaxed, but the turtle remains alive and healthy for a period of time.
The Lazing Turtles....
These beautiful creatures spend most of their lives in the ocean waters and are migratory. They do go ashore though to laze in the sun or prepare for nesting.
Four out of seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered and two species are critically endangered.
Meet The Seven Species Of Sea Turtles.
In this article, I will tell you more about the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle (Threatened), the Leatherback (Endangered), and the Hawksbill.
- Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
- Flatback (Natator depressus)
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)
- Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Green turtles are definitely one of our endangered species and they have been listed as endangered since 1978. However, they still nest and we see their numbers increase on the east coast of Florida but it is in Costa Rica where we see their largest nesting site.
Green turtles are green in colour because “they are what they eat”. They eat sea grass and algae and they have a green coloured fat because of what they eat.
Green Sea Turtle
They eat sea grass and algae and they have a green coloured fat because of what they eat. They have grey or olive toned shells and the second largest of all sea turtles. The adult Green Sea Turtle is typically around 91 to 122 cm long and can weigh around 140 to 150 kg. The largest Green Sea Turtle ever found weighed in at a whopping 395 kg and was 152 cm in length. They reach sexual maturity around 25 years old and they live around 60 to 70 years.
By clicking on the link above YOU can adopt a Sea Turtle...
Green Sea Turtles are a threatened species.
Green Sea Turtles nest between 3 to 5 times per season and at intervals of around every 2 years. The number of nesting females vary from season to season and lay around 115 eggs with an incubation period of 60 days.
Their diet changes somewhat according to their age and size. When they are young and around 20 to 25cm in length, they eat worms, aquatic insects, algae and ocean grass. However, when they get older and bigger, they indulge only in sea grass and algae and they are the only species that are strictly herbivorous adults.
They are rarely seen in the open ocean and mainly stay near the coastline within the protected shores in areas with sea grass.
The greatest threat to the numbers of the Green Sea Turtle is undoubtedly and one AGAIN the human species. Some body parts are used as “leather” to make ornamental pieces and are sold on the tourist market. Baby turtles are captured and “stuffed” inside curious, like key rings etc. As if they don’t have a hard enough time racing against nature to get to the ocean, and even then are not guaranteed an adult live. Their eggs are commercially harvested and used as a food source.
For those of you who already know about Bob the Green Seaturtle AND for those who are intereseted in reading about the amazing story of Bob the Green Seaturtle, click on the link below to read about this amazing turtle, his rehabilitation and his release. You can also follow Bob, his exiting journey and where he finds himself.
The Loggerheads Sea Turtle is the only sea turtle not listed as endangered, but they are definitely threatened.
They have a very large head and seriously strong jaws. Their shell (carapace) is heart shaped, reddish brown in colour with large non overlapping rough scales and 5 lateral scales. The shell is also very bony with very visual ridges. They have short, thick front flippers with two claws but their back flippers have two or three claws.
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle will soon become endangered.
Photography by WWF (World Wildlife Organization)
By clicking on the following link YOU can adopt a Sea turtle and support the work of the WWF.
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is currently threatened and will soon become endangered.
The adult Loggerhead is about 80 to 110cm in length (shell size) and weighs between 70 to 170 kg.
The Loggerhead Turtle feed mostly feeds off the bottom of the ocean, like horseshoe crabs, clams and mussels. This is where their powerful jaw comes into play as it helps to easily crush the shellfish.
They love to feed in shallow water in estuaries and coastal bays.
They lay about 100 eggs per nest and prepare about 4 to 6 nests per season. They nest every 2 to 4 years and their eggs incubate for 60 days.
A major threat to their survival is shrimp trawling, incidental capture in long line fishing, which have played a huge role in recent population decline and off course a serious biggy….POLUTION!
Due to coastal development, the loss of nesting habitat is one of the greatest threats to the survival of the Loggerhead turtle. Human disturbances such as housing development and coastal lighting cause disorientation for the hatchlings when they emerge and consequently they take longer to find their safe haven and get snatched by predators or they “loose” their way entirely and never make it to the ocean.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, they are internationally listed as vulnerable with a high risk of extinction in the wild in the very near future.
According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the population estimate of the Loggerhead Turtle is currently between 40 000 and 50 000 nesting females.
These numbers seem high when you’re not aware of how many hatchlings actually make it to their “destination” at the end of the day, but trust me, it’s A FAR CRY from what they should be to ensure they don’t become extinct.
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle was listed as endangered in 1970 and still remains as per the Endangered Species Act. They are not found in large numbers anymore, anywhere in the world.
Their shell (Carapace) is orange or a browny yellow, oval shaped, bony and without ridges but have large overlapping scales with 2 claws on each front flipper. The adult Hawksbill is about 70 to 90cm in length and weigh around 45 to 70kg.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
They can be found in estuaries, lagoons and in rocky areas and around coral reefs. They mainly eat squid and shrimp but also feast on anemones and sea sponges.
The Hawksbill nests between 3 to 6 times per season, every 2 to 4 years and lay around 160 eggs in each nest.
Just like the Green Turtle, their eggs incubate for around 60 days.
The population estimate is between 20 000 to 23 000 nesting females.
Hawksbill Turtle Nesting Eggs
And once AGAIN, with great sadness, I have to mention that their greatest threat is the human species.
They are harvested solely for their beautiful prized shell. Can humans not feel shame for wearing the jewelry and hair ornaments they adorn themselves with.
Hawksbill Turtles are now endangered.