Sea Turtle Facts ~ Sea Turtle FAQ

by Orma Editors

in Sea Life, Sea Turtles

How many species of sea turtles are there?
There are seven species of sea turtles:

  1. Leatherback
  2. Green
  3. Loggerhead
  4. Hawksbill
  5. Kemp’s Ridleyive Ridle
  6. Olive Ridley
  7. Flatback

What is the largest and smallest species of sea turtle?
The Leatherback is the largest sea turtle with an average length of 5 feet and a weight of 700 lbs. The largest Leatherback ever found was 8.5 long  and weighed 2019 lbs. It’s on display at the National Museum Cardiff (read its neat story here)

Largest Turtle Ever

The largest leatherback turtle ever in its new display at the National Museum, Cardiff

The Kemp’s Ridley is the smallest sea turtle with an average length of 2 feet and a weight of  100 lbs. It’s also the rarest using only 1 nesting site located on a beach in Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

How long do sea turtles live?
Sea turtle species have varied life spans ranging from 35-80 years, although some individuals have exceeded 200 years. It’ is difficult to obtain anything more than ballpark figures. Green sea turtles probably have the longest average life span of 80 years. The shortest life span might belong to the Hawksbill or the Flatback at 35+ years.

What do sea turtles eat? Are they carnivores, herbivores or omnivores?

  • Leatherbacks are carnivores –  soft-bodied animals like jellyfish and tunicates.
  • Green turtles are herbivores – sea grass and algae.
  • Loggerheads and Ridley’s are omnivores – stronger mouths allow them to eat clams, crabs, mollusks and shrimp as well as vegetation.
  • Hawksbills are carnivores – narrow heads allow them to access the crevasses of the coral reefs in which they live in search of shrimps, squid, sponges and tunicates.
  • Olive Ridleys are carnivores – jellyfish, shrimp, snails and small lobsters.
  • Flatbacks are omnivores – seagrasses, shrimp, jellyfish and even fish.

All sea turtles held in captivity can be maintained on a carnivorous diet.*

What are the habitat ranges of sea turtles?
They live in all 5 oceans except the arctic ocean, which is too cold. They still prefer warmer waters, though.

Are sea turtles reptiles?
Yes and as such they cannot regulate their body temperature internally as mammals do. However, the Leatherback has a type of  primitive heat regulation system that’s not fully understood but does allow it to maintain a more constant internal temperature (explained in more depth here) than any other reptile. This is why the Leatherback can be found in colder waters and dive deeper than other sea turtles.

How deep can sea turtles dive?
The Leatherback can dive to a depth of 3,00 feet. Many animals exhale before they dive so as to avoid decompression sickness upon ascent, but the Leatherback fills its lungs with an amount of air corresponding to its dive depth and relies on its slow ascent to avoid any decompression problems. 1 Other types of sea turtles can dive up to about a 1,000 feet.

How do sea turtles sleep?
They sleep floating or submerged under ledges or laying on the bottom as they can hold their breath for several hours.

Sleeping Sea Turtle

A Green Sea Turtle sleeps under a rock ledge near the gas and electric plant outflow pipe shoal on the west coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Do sea turtles ever go on land?
The females come ashore to lay eggs once a year. The males remain in the ocean their entire lives.

How many sea turtle eggs actually make it to adulthood?
1/1,000 t0 1/10/000 eggs hatch and make it to adulthood.. Sea turtles lay between 150 and 2,000 eggs a season divided into individual clutches or nests of about 50-100 eggs each.

Where do baby sea turtles live?
The first 10 years of a sea turtle’s life are considered their “lost years” as not much is known about their whereabouts during this time. It’s suspected they reside in the pelagic zone. Updated info on baby loggerhead sea turtles.

How do sea turtles navigate?
It is suspected that sea turtles navigate via small variations in the earth’s magnetic field which, like honeybees and some birds, they are able to detect.2

Is it a male or a female sea turtle?
It’s difficult to tell until they reach maturity at 20-35 years old. Then, the male’s tail will grow well past its shell while the female’s will stay short and tucked under its carapace (shell).

Are sea turtles endangered?
5 of the 7 species are endangered with the Olive Ridley considered vulnerable while the status of the Flatback is unknown.

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