Sea Turtles are among the most exotic reptiles found in and around oceans around the world, these magnificent species belong to a wide group of reptiles called Testudines, which also includes tortoises and terrapins. Most of the turtle species are found in South Eastern America, South Asia and Africa, they can also be found in other parts of the world including European Actic, although rarely, but you won’t find them in Antarctica.
However exotic they are, most species of turtles are endangered! 129 of approximately 300 species of turtle and tortoise on Earth today are either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, according to the IUCN. Majority of their threats are poaching, illegal pet trade and water pollution. Their main cause of their unnatural deaths is due to the ingestion of plastic materials, which most of the time they mistake for jellyfish, one of their meals.
Did you know, just like penguins, the Sea Turtles also have a special day called World Sea Turtle Day which is on June 16. The last I ever attended was when I was still in primary school, that was about 15 to 16 years ago when I was a member of Wildlife Club in my school. Most of the activities we always took part in was swimming, creating turtles from beach sand and advocate saving turtle lives, it was an amazing experience.
So, since June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day, I have managed to put together 16 amazing facts that I hope you will enjoy!
- Turtles are ‘amniotes’ – they breathe air and lay their eggs on land, although many species live in or around water.
- Turtles are easily recognised by their bony, cartilaginous shell. This super-tough casing acts like a shield to protect them from predators – some turtles can even tuck their head up inside their shell for extra protection
- Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world, beating snakes, crocodiles and alligators.
- The leatherback turtle can swim at a speed of up to 22 miles per hour!
- The most dangerous turtle in the world is the Alligator Snapping Turtle, definitely a carnivorous.
- Turtles have an incredibly long lifespan. The oldest turtle ever recorded was Tu”i Malila, of Tonga Island, it passed away at the grand old age of 188 years!
- Sea turtles can drink the oceans saltwater with no problem. They have a special organ that filters the excess salt, which is then excreted out through their eyes.
- A turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton. It’s made up of over 50 bones which include the turtle’s rib cage and spine.
- The Leatherback turtles will migrate thousands of miles just to lay their eggs! They will travel back to the same beach that they were born on, and lay their own eggs. Like all turtles, they are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic fields and can detect both components and figure out where in the ocean they are.
- Some turtles are carnivores, others are herbivores and some are omnivores. Many baby turtles start life as carnivores but grow to eat more plants as they mature.
- In general, turtles can hold their breath for 30 minutes. However, this can vary depending on species, location and temperature of the water.
- One species, the loggerhead turtle, has been observed at staying underwater for 10 hours!
- When a sea turtle is resting or sleeping, they can stay underwater for 4-7 hours. They accomplish this by slowing their heart rate up to nine minutes in between heart beats in order to conserve oxygen.
- Temperature of the eggs dictates the sex of baby turtles. It is called temperature-dependent sex determination. If a turtles eggs incubate below 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit, the turtle eggs will hatch male. If they’re incubated above 87.8°F, the babies will be female.
- The leatherback turtle is the most widely distributed turtle, venturing into the Arctic Circle, and as far south as the bottom of New Zealand.
- What a turtle eats depends on the environment it lives in. Land-dwelling turtles will munch on beetles, fruit and grass, whereas sea dwellers will gobble everything from algae to squid and jellyfish (their favourite).
Read More: 25 Amazing Fun Facts About Penguins
After reading these great facts about turtles, I’m sure you have realised that these creatures are more than just magnificent to behold. Despite that, climate change will heavily influence this species due to the fact that warmer nests lead to more females, whereas cooler nests lead to more males. Scientists believe that climate change could impact turtle species to hatching more females resulting in not enough males being born. Not to mention the plastic and chemical materials we dispose off into the ocean. But if we come together with one voice we can help save the entire Testudines family.
If you enjoyed the facts let us know which one was your favourite!