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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.
If these animals catch your attention and you want to learn more about them, keep reading Green Ecologist to discover all about the different types of sea turtles and their characteristics.
What are the main characteristics of sea turtles
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 a serrated beak, 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 begin swimming and living in the seas and oceans.
- The eggs hatch in the same amount of time and quickly emerge into the water by the hundreds, 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. Females have a really short tail, in fact it never exceeds their 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 are 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 like the coasts of Australia, and other animals, such as raccoons off the coast of the United States.
Endangered and vulnerable sea turtles
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 and mentioned in the previous section.
- Olive ridley, bastard, parrot or parrot turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
- Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- Leatherback or leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Loggerhead or loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
- Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
The main causes of them being in this dangerous situation, and some of them at a level that is already very worrying, are climate change, marine pollution and the destruction of their habitats, as well as hunting to use them for food and as a trophy. , both alive, as dissected or by their shells.
If you want more information about endangered Turtles and what we can do to help them, enter this other Green Ecologist article in which we tell you everything. You can then enjoy a sea turtle photo gallery of different species.
If you want to read more articles similar to Types of sea turtles and their characteristics, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.