If you ever meet a sea turtle, you have to understand you are in the company of greatness. Don’t be fooled by imagining it flipped on its back, helpless. Each and every adult sea turtle out there is a superhero. It is literally one in a thousand. Life is so harsh for hatchlings that the other 999 did not make it. That’s right, only one in a thousand sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.
Female turtles leave the sea and come up to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs. During the nesting season, they lay two to six clutches of eggs. Each clutch contains up to 180 round, white eggs. The temperature influences the sex of the hatchlings. The warmer the nest, the more females, while eggs in cooler nests are more likely to become male. After a couple of months in the sand, the eggs begin to hatch. Tiny turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea, facing an overwhelming range of dangers including predators, curious humans and pollution.
Sea turtle’s lifespan
Those that survive are tough, and they have a life of adventure ahead of them. Sea turtles travel massive distances in the ocean. They might lay their eggs in their own birthplace, but that does not mean they are homebodies. These magnificent creatures can travel 10,000 miles a year, roaming the sea. Loggerhead sea turtles have been known to travel from waters off Japan to California’s beaches.
Individual sea turtles live up to 100 years – if they can avoid predators and other dangers such as pollution. Their faces look ancient, perhaps because sea turtles as a species are ancient. Turtles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Yet today they are at risk of extinction. Sharks are their main predator, but it is not sharks putting these amazing creatures at risk. It’s humans. Poachers and pollution are what is killing them. Humans are destroying their habitats, and fishing nets also kill turtles.
Know Your Sea Turtles
Sea turtles are on the ropes now. They are down but not out. This is the time to learn what we have to lose if these creatures become extinct. Seven types of sea turtles exist, and six are considered at risk.
- Green Sea Turtle: The only herbivore among the sea turtles, they are named for the hues in their cartilage, not their shell. They can grow to 400 pounds. They live in tropical and subtropical waters and are endangered.
- Loggerhead Sea Turtle: Named for their thick heads, which contain powerful jaws, they are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean. Humans rarely hunt them, but they do get caught in fishing equipment. They can weigh up to 400 pounds, and their status is vulnerable.
- Flatback Sea Turtle: These turtles are only found around Australia and Papua New Guinea. Named for the shape of their shell, their average size is 200 pounds. The Australian government considers them vulnerable.
- Hawksbill Sea Turtle: Hunted for their beautiful shells, these turtles are named for their pointed beaks. Weighing up to 150 pounds, they are small but stunning. These beautiful residents of tropical oceans are critically endangered.
- Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle: These are the smallest of the sea turtles, growing to 100 pounds. They are also the most critically endangered. They live primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, and are known for nesting in huge groups of thousands of females.
- Olive Ridley Sea Turtle: Named for their greenish shells, these turtles are the most secure. But because they nest in so few places, losing any habitat would have severe effects on their population. For that reason, they are considered vulnerable. They can grow to be 110 pounds.
- Leatherback Sea Turtle: The only sea turtles without a hard shell, these are also the largest, weighing in at up to 1,500 pounds. They’re also the most migratory, roaming the oceans globally. Overall, their status is vulnerable, but in some habitats the Leatherback population is critically endangered.
Each individual sea turtle is tough as nails. As a species, they have survived more than 100 million years. Today, they are vulnerable due to human activity, but it is not too late to turn it around for turtles and show these majestic creatures some respect. They have been here longer than us, after all!
Sea turtle jewelry would be the ideal gift for any turtle admirer!