When you think about sea turtles, I’m sure you have a very clear image of what a turtle looks like, but did you know that there are actually seven different sea turtle species? The sea turtle that you clearly pictured in your mind could very well be a cognitive mix of green, hawksbill, loggerhead, flatback, olive ridley or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
All seven species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridly and leatherback turtles are listed as critically endangered. Humans pose a number of threats to sea turtles. Many cultures around the world harvest sea turtles and their eggs for consumption; the shell and other turtle parts are also used to make decorative ornaments. Humans can also indirectly harm sea turtles by developing real estate on a beach where turtles annually migrate and nest.
A sea turtle’s life begins after hatching from an egg buried beneath sand. Young sea turtle hatchlings have many dangers to be weary of before they even make it to the sea. Newly hatched turtles face attacks from predators like fish, birds, and crabs. If a sea turtle survives, it will drift at sea until it grows to be approximately a foot long. At this point, the sea turtles will move closer to shore to feed.
Sea turtles are believed to have an 80-year lifespan; they reach sexual maturity around age 30. Sea turtles can be found all in every ocean in the world except for the Polar Regions. Male sea turtles spend their whole life at sea. Female sea turtles mate at sea only to return to migrate to a shore every year to nest. The sea turtle’s migration can be very intense, sometimes traveling thousands of miles to lay eggs on the shore