How SEA TURTLES REPRODUCE - Kind, Courtship, Mating and More

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Sea turtles are one of the best known animals that inhabit seas and oceans and even so, most of us are still very curious. In fact, scientists continue to discover and learn many new things about them every day.

In this article by Ecologist Verde and the CRAM Foundation (Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals), we focus on explaining how the reproduction of sea turtles. Do all of your species lay eggs? And how do they put them? How is your courtship? What is the breeding season for sea turtles? In this fascinating article you can find the answers to these and other questions related to the subject of how sea turtles reproduce.

How is the reproduction of sea turtles

The kind of reproduction of sea turtles It is sexual and oviparous, that is, these animals that inhabit oceans and seas are oviparous animalsThey lay eggs from which the young are later born. Neither species is ovoviviparous nor is it viviparous.

The female sea turtles, after mating with the males, go to the beaches, they make their nests and lay their eggs, through its oviduct, to cover the nests when finished and abandon them. After an incubation time, when the formation of the young is complete, they are born breaking the shell, making their way through the sand of the nest and moving directly towards the sea.

Here you can learn more about what are oviparous animals.

How is the courtship of sea turtles

Courtship and sexual interactions between sea turtles continue to hold many mysteries for scientists who study them. However, some details are known, such as the following:

  • The courtship of sea turtles occurs in breeding areas, which are usually close to the coasts.
  • Some general behaviors have been observed among the different species of these marine reptiles that are related to the courtship season.
  • Examples of these behaviors are The bite of the males in the fins of the females and the harassment of several males to the same female to try to reproduce with her.

How sea turtles mate

Sea turtles always mate in Water, in courtship areas near the coasts and beaches. After courtship, when the female accepts the male, they mate. At mating sea turtlesIf the female does not run away and accept the male, he will mount on the back of the female's shell, clinging to the top with the nails of his front flippers. Then, when the male is already well supported on the female, the internal fertilization.

One aspect to highlight regarding the mating of sea turtles is that in many cases the females can mate with more than one male. Therefore, each egg laying or nest of a female can be fertilized by the sperm of different males.

Only the females reach the shore and come out to the beach every time they go to make their nests to lay their eggs. Males almost never return to land once they leave the sand of the beach where they are born.

From what age do sea turtles reproduce?

Another question related to how sea turtles reproduce is at what age do they begin to reproduce, that is, when they reach the sexual maturity to be able to reproduce.

These marine reptiles reach sexual maturity in the average of 30 years, but depends on the species. The green turtle, for example, can take up to 50 years to reach sexual maturity, but it can occur between the ages of 17 and 50.

When do sea turtles reproduce?

The breeding season of sea turtles can vary between species, even within the same species we can find turtles that they reproduce at different times.

For example, in the case of the leatherback or leatherback turtle, reproduction is seasonal and coincides with the humid and warm weather of the place where it nests. In the tropics of America it breeds between February and July and on the Atlantic coasts of Africa between November and March. On the other hand, the loggerhead or loggerhead turtle has a more homogeneous pattern and usually reproduces in early spring in the different breeding areas of the species.

The nest and laying of eggs of sea turtles

The sea turtle behavior about nesting it is still being studied today. Although it is true that the majority of sea turtles present philopatry (they re-nest in the beaches where they were born), There are exceptions. The leatherback turtle, for example, has less fidelity to return to the laying beaches and, at times, can nest in different places hundreds of kilometers apart.

It is believed that many turtles choose the nesting beach based on the underwater topography of the place, the type of sand and its texture, external vegetation, rock formations, etc. Even so, it is not absolutely certain what the reasons for selecting these beaches are.

When the time comes for the sea turtle egg laying, the females arrive at the beach they select, which in some species happens individually or in a small number of females at one time and in other species it happens in arrivals, that is, in a massive way, and they begin with the following process:

  1. They choose a place, even some species tend to nest in the same place on the beach every time they go.
  2. To make the nest they use their fins front and rear to move the sand to form a hole of the right size.
  3. As soon as they consider that the nest is ready, they begin to lay the eggs, with their oviduct, which are all left together in the hole.
  4. When finished, they begin to cover the nest with the sand that they had previously removed, helping each other again with their fins, especially the rear ones.
  5. When they see that the nest is completely covered they return to the sea and they no longer see the nest or monitor how the young are or when they are born. All of this process is exhausting for femalesAs out of the water they feel less secure, they move slower and make an enormous effort, both to reach a dry area of the sand and prepare the nest and to lay the eggs and then cover them well.

There are always enough eggs in a sea turtle nest, but how many eggs do sea turtles lay? With respect to average number of eggs that females lay in each nestWe can only indicate that it is something difficult to say because within the same species we find a lot of difference between nests. However, trends for some species are as follows:

  • Loggerhead or loggerhead turtle: they lay between 100 and 125 eggs (Florida) and between 65 and 95 (Cape Verde and Mediterranean), but nests of around 30 eggs have been found occasionally.
  • Green turtle: between 110 and 130 eggs.
  • Leatherback or leatherback turtle: between 80 and 90 eggs.

Incubation of turtle eggs in the nest: female or male?

The incubation of the eggs in the sea turtle nests occurs throughout 60 days, although this period can vary according to various factors such as temperature, and it will be the moment when the hatchlings will be ready to leave the sand and go directly to the sea.

One of the curiosities of sea turtles is that the sex of turtles is determined by the nest incubation temperature. If the temperature is close to 29.5 ºC, similar percentages of females and males can emerge. If the temperature exceeds 29.5 ºC there will be a higher percentage of females and if the temperature is lower there will be a higher percentage of males.

See how sea turtles are born It can be an amazing sight, but we must remember that, if this happens to us or if we find a nest in which the eggs have not yet hatched, we never have to catch the eggs or the little turtles (neither to take photos nor to take them to Water). To avoid harming these animals, if it is really necessary and important for the conservation of the species to move the eggs from the site, catch the little turtles to move them to the water or other related actions, the professional people who study these will have to be commissioned. animals. Therefore, in these situations, in the case of Spain, you must first call 112 and from this they give the emergency notice to the foundation or association in charge of helping conserve marine life in the area, such as the CRAM Foundation (Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals).

In this foundation, among other actions, they are in charge of take care of every sea turtle nest they detect in the area in which they operate, as well as ensuring that all possible turtles hatch and reach the sea. Sometimes even a few are left for study and care in a suitable environment and, after a while, they are released completely healthy. In this way, they help to ensure that a part of the population of the new generation born in this area reaches an age when it has fewer predators and, therefore, it is easier for these turtles to survive and reproduce in order to continue increasing their numbers. population. If you are interested in knowing better and helping the CRAM Foundation, we invite you to enter this link where you will learn in detail the ways to collaborate with them: from € 1 per month to donations of the amount you want or even to be volunteer at your recovery center.

Now that you've learned about how sea turtles reproduceMaybe you are more curious about these animals and you want to read these other articles by Green Ecologist about Mediterranean Turtles and Turtles in danger of extinction.

If you want to read more articles similar to How sea turtles reproduce, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.

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