Fast Facts: Turtles

  • Sea turtles have existed since the time of the dinosaurs.
  • The earliest known marine turtle lived about 120 million years ago and its name was Desmatochelys Padillai – it was 6 feet long and looked like modern sea turtles.
  • Sea turtles use earths magnetic fields to navigate, using their dual magnetic abilities, which act like a GPS.
  • Turtles have particles of magnetite, a magnetic mineral in their brains. Magnetite orientates the turtles to earths magnetic poles, similar to a compass. This is how an adult female sea turtle can find her way back to the same beach where she was born, to lay her eggs.  
  • Six out of the seven species of sea turtles that swim the planet’s waters – Leatherback, Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill – are found in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic. The seventh, the flatback, lives only in the waters around Australia.
  • The Leatherback is the largest sea turtle and can weigh a whopping 907 kilo’s! It’s also the only sea turtle that doesn’t have a hard, bony shell.
  • Six of the seven sea turtle species are classified as threatened, endangered, or critically endangered, due largely to human impact in the form of hunting, bycatch in fishing nets, pollution and climate change.
  • A male green turtle’s approach to courtship is so competitive and intense, that he subjects the object of his passion to an ordeal that seams to put her in imminent danger of drowning.
  • Sometimes a male will become so desperate, that he will attach himself to the first male and then another one will do the same and so on, until she has up to four passengers. Getting to the surface to breathe, with the weight of four 180kg turtles on your back is a desperate struggle.
  • Mating can last up to 12 hours before the female is eventually released and can swim to shore to lay her now-fertilised eggs.
  • The Leatherback Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 45 years, is a carnivore and is vulnerable.
  • The Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 50 or more years, is a Carnivore and is vulnerable.
  • The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 50 years, is an omnivore and is critically endangered.
  • The Green Sea Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 80 or more years, is an herbivore and is endangered.
  • The Olive Ridley Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 50 years, is an omnivore and is vulnerable.
  • The Hawksbill Turtle’s average lifespan in the wild is 30-50 years, is a carnivore and is critically endangered.
  • The Flatback Turtle is an omnivore, not enough information is known about them (they are listed as data deficient).

References:

  • nationalgeographic.com
  • australiangeographic.com.au
  • “Life Story” by Rupbert Barrington and Michael Gunton with foreword by David Attenborough.

Published by Karina Teuma

karinateuma.com Karina Teuma is a Passionate Marine Biology Enthusiast, Environmentalist, Snorkeller, Freediver, Scuba Diver and more.

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