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All Creatures,

Episode 65: Saving Sea Turtles

January 01, 2019

Sea Turtles are beloved creatures from the ocean. Popular all over the world for their grace and beauty, these animals continue to captivate us. However, they are in peril and a species we need to learn as much as possible to ensure their survival.

Sea Turtle Description

There are 7 species of Sea Turtles. The largest is the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the only species with a softer, or leathery shell. The Leatherback is the largest of all the Sea Turtles at almost 6 feet long and up to 1100 lbs. Conversely, the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is the smallest at almost 2 feet long and only 100 lbs.

Sea Turtles can be found almost all over the world branching out from the equator. They do not inhabit the polar or subpolar regions. These animals have evolved over the last 200 million years, survived mass extinction events, but are in trouble and may not survive this 6th Mass Extinction.

Sea Turtle Facts

Sea Turtles spend almost their entire lives in the oceans. The only exceptions are right when they are born and leave the nest to enter the oceans, and when females come on to land to lay their eggs. They migrate over incredible distances, thousands of miles in some instances. One tagged female leatherback had been logged to traveled over 12,000 miles.

The diets of Sea Turtles vary with Leatherbacks feeding primarily on jellyfish to Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) prefer diets of clams, sea urchins, other shell fish, and the Green Sea Turtle  (Chelonia mydas) preferring a diet of sea grasses.

Sea Turtles can dive deep and stay under water for long periods. The Green Sea Turtle can stay under water for up to 5 hours and their heartbeats have been measured at 1 beat every 9 minutes.

Other facts include:

  • Live around 50 years, maybe longer
  • Do not reach sexual maturity until 20 years of age
  • 1 in 1,000 baby sea turtles survive to sexual maturity
  • Swim at 2-3 mph (3.5 kph) and can burst up to 22 mph (35 kph)
  • Generally solitary but do come together to mate
  • Shed tears, only to remove excess salt in their bodies

Sea Turtle Conservation

All Sea Turtles are threatened with extinction. Only the Flatback Sea Turtle is unclassified due to deficient data. Global climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction to include nesting sites are the primary threats to them.

Conservation Tips

Simple. Stop using plastic straws. Here are some links in the US where you can get environmentally friendly straws.

Use hashtag #saveaseaturtle

Stainless Steel Straws

Biodegradable Straws

Organizations to Support

Sea Turtle Conservancy

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