Sea Turtles | Description, Species, Habitat, & Facts

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Turtles that live in the ocean are called sea turtles. Different types of sea turtles can be found around the world and in all oceans except the Arctic Ocean, where it is too cold. In general, sea turtles prefer warmer waters and live in shallow coastal areas such as lagoons and bays, but they are also occasionally found in deeper ocean waters.

They are Reptiles

Sea turtles belong to the class of reptiles. This means that they are cold-blooded, have scaly skin, breathe air and lay eggs. There are seven species of sea turtles. These include tortoise, leatherback, olive, tortoise, tortoise, flatback, green turtle, and Kemp tortoise. The Black Sea Turtle is sometimes considered the eighth species of sea turtle.

How big do Sea Turtles get?

Sea turtles come in all sizes. The largest is a leatherback turtle that can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds! The smallest are the olive puzzle turtle and Kemp’s puzzle turtle. They grow to about 2 feet long and weigh 100 pounds.

Do Sea Turtles have a shell?

Like other turtles, sea turtles have a hard shell that acts as armor and protects them from predators. The top of the shell that we see is called apricot. Different species have different shaped shells. Some oval and some more heart shaped. Sea turtles do not retract their shells like some turtles do.

Sea turtles have flippers that allow them to swim well. These fins can also help them navigate on land, but not so well, making sea turtles easy prey for terrestrial predators. The front flippers are used to propel the turtle in the water while the rear flippers are used to steer. Sometimes the rear flippers are used to dig holes where turtles lay eggs.

What do Sea Turtles eat?

Depending on the species and age of the turtle, sea turtles eat all sorts of foods, including seagrasses, seaweed, crabs, jellyfish, and shrimp.

Baby Sea Turtles

Adult sea turtles have very few predators. However, baby sea turtles are very vulnerable once they are born. Mother sea turtles lay a lot of eggs on the beach in a hole they dug. Then the mothers leave and return to the ocean. The eggs are defenseless and become the food of choice for many predators. After the eggs hatch, the young head towards the water. They are very vulnerable to predation during this time.

Interesting Facts about Sea Turtles

Many species of sea turtles can hold their breath for more than 30 minutes.

Leatherback turtles are known to dive more than 1000 feet deep in the ocean.

Sea turtles do not need a fresh water supply. They can live on water that they get from food.

Sea turtles sometimes look like they’re crying. These tears come from special glands that allow them to remove the excess salt they get from living in saltwater oceans.

The fastest turtles are leatherback turtles known to swim at more than 20 miles per hour.