Sea turtles are one of the most fascinating animals that we can find in the oceans. In fact, they are part of the popular stories and mythology of a wide variety of cultures. Today they still seem to us incredible beings because of their beauty, their elegance in the water and some of their most remarkable characteristics, such as their longevity and their tranquility.
To begin, we will talk about the main characteristics of sea turtles in general, without going into characteristics of the different species.
- They are reptiles that live in the seas and oceans.
- They prefer tropical and subtropical waters.
- They are usually in shallow water, although to find food they can go very deep.
- They have internal skeleton and external skeleton, very few animals have this characteristic.
- The lower part of the shell of sea turtles, that is, their belly, has a scientific name: plastron.
- They have eyelids, something unusual in marine animals.
- They have very good hearing in the water, being able to perceive even very small vibrations.
- Sea turtles do not have teeth, but they do have powerful jaws and, some of them, hard, pointed beaks. Some species have serrated beaks, with a smooth serrated shape to better tear and cut food.
- They also have a great sense of smell underwater and outside of it.
- Baby sea turtles hatch in the sand on beaches.
- The incubation of the eggs can last between 30 and 60 days depending on the species.
- The sea turtle hatchlings hatch from the eggs that the females have laid in buried nests and go straight into the waves to start swimming and living in the seas and oceans.
- The eggs hatch in the same amount of time and quickly emerge by the hundreds into the water, but many do not arrive due to lurking predators.
- The females are the only ones that will return from time to time to the beach where they were born, or in that area, to form their nest and spawn. Thus, the males no longer return to the beaches.
- The mother turtles never return to the beaches to check the nests or to interact with the young once they are born.
- One way to differentiate males and females is to observe the tails. The females have a really short tail, in fact it never exceeds its rear flippers. On the other hand, the tail of the males is longer and if it exceeds its rear fins.
- There are sea turtles that are carnivorous, others herbivorous and others are omnivorous, or they start eating young meat and as they grow they feed on marine plants and algae.
- They eat mainly jellyfish and, for years now, they have accidentally eaten plastic, especially plastic bags. The reason is that they confuse them with their food, mainly with jellyfish.
- Other of their usual foods are squid, shrimp, sea sponges , and so on.
- Its main predators are sharks, cetaceans, specifically toothed whales such as killer whales, beluga whales and sperm whales, large fish and humans. Instead, their eggs are preyed upon by land animals such as different species of birds, such as seagulls, foxes in places such as the coasts of Australia, and other animals, such as raccoons on the coasts of the United States.
You have probably already heard or read that several species of sea turtles are in danger of extinction. This has been the case for years and more and more species are being added. The most threatened species of sea turtles are 5 of the 7 existing
- Dolphin, bastard, parrot or parrot turtle
- Tortuga carey
- Leatherback or leatherback turtle
- Tortuga boba o caguama
- Green sea turtle