World Wildlife Day Wisdom Series (7 of 8)Begin
Female sea turtles travel thousands of kilometers across the ocean and onto shore where they dig a hole on the beach and lay their eggs. They then lay "clutches" or batches of 65 to 180 eggs at a time and return approximately 2 weeks later to deposit another clutch of eggs!
It's true! For most animals, sex is determined during fertilization but this is not the case for sea turtles! Warmer nests produce female hatchlings and cooler nests produce male hatchlings.
While sea turtles eat a variety of plants and animals depending on their species, they don’t eat seahorse! Some species of sea turtle are herbivores, some are gelatinivores (e.g. feed on gelatinous prey like jellyfish), while others are omnivores, carnivores, or spongivores (eat sea sponges).
False! Unlike turtles that live on land, sea turtles are unable to retract their head and flippers into their shell. Their anatomy makes them better swimmers in the water, but also makes them more vulnerable when they are on land nesting or hatching.
It’s true! Unlike many marine creatures, sea turtles have lungs and need to come up to the surface regularly to breathe. However, they have an amazing ability to hold their breath for up to 4 to 7 hours when they are resting or sleeping. Drowning can occur when a sea turtle gets entangled and trapped in fishing lines, nets or other discarded fishing gear called "ghost gear."
Six of the seven species of sea turtles are classified as either threatened, endangered or critically endangered! These six species are: Leatherbacks, Greens, Loggerheads, Hawksbills, Olive Ridleys, Kemp's Ridleys. Two of the six - the Hawksbill and the Kemp's Ridleys - are critically endangered.
There has been an 88% decline in nesting populations of Kemp's ridley sea turtles in the last 70 years. Currently, their population of adult female sea turtles is estimated to be about 5000.
All of the above are severely affecting sea turtle populations. Coastal development damages the shores and sea floor that turtles depend on, and increases levels of pollution in the waters. Sea turtles are also still hunted for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells. Man-made climate change can result in loss of nesting beaches due to rising sea levels, and also impacts the temperatures of the sand that females lay eggs on, affecting the natural sex ratios of hatchlings.
Sea turtles are not the only species at risk. Countless other animal and plant species depend on natural spaces to thrive yet are losing their habitats and the biodiversity within them at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Add your voice to call on world leaders to take urgent action to protect and restore nature.