The beautiful sea turtles have covered huge distances through all oceans of the world and have seen rich changes throughout the 100 million years of evolution. They have unique anatomic features as well that helps them survive and is something every child would love learning more about. Nobody can look past the graceful strokes of a sea turtle gliding aimlessly through the ocean, so read on to learn more about some sea turtle characteristics!
What Are The Various Species of Sea Turtles?
The various species of sea turtles are:
- Loggerhead (Caretta caretta): One of the most popular Loggerhead turtle facts is that it has an enormous head, which is why it was given its name. These turtles love the feed present in coastal bays and estuaries.
- Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas): The Green Sea turtle gets its name from the color of the fat present underneath its shell, which is green in color. These turtles can be found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide, especially in places with many seagrasses.
- Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea): The leatherback sea turtle has a unique shell composed of a layer of tough, thin, and rubbery skin made strong by thousands of little bone plates, which look leathery.
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata): This turtle gets its name from its hawk-like beak and narrow head. It is one of the smaller sea turtles out there, and it is one of the most intriguing Hawksbill turtle facts worth knowing.
- Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii): One of the most popular Kemps ridley sea turtle facts is that they are named after Richard Kemp, who helped discover the species and learn a lot about it.
- Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea): One of the most popular Olive ridley sea turtle facts is that these turtles are given their name from the olive green colored shell it has. It is primarily found in the subtropical and tropical waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.
- Flatback (Natator depressa): The Flatback Sea Turtle got its name due to its incredibly flat shell. In very few places like Papua New Guinea and Australia, they are found in the grassy shallows and coastal coral reefs.
What is The Size of a Turtle
Sea turtles come in various sizes, and since there are so many different species of turtles, there is no average size. The largest turtles are leatherback turtles that can go to sizes as big as a golf cart ( as much as 6 feet), while the smaller species can be as small as the size of dinner plates.
Where do They Live?
Most sea turtles live in temperate and warm seas worldwide, and these turtles spend less time on land and more time in the water. Sea turtles rarely come to the land, and the only reason they do it is to lay eggs on the females. The male turtles never leave the ocean. Adult sea turtles are usually spotted in bays, lagoons, coastal waters, open sea, and estuaries, while you can spot the younger ones around estuaries, bays, and the sea.
What do Turtles Eat?
Species play a considerable role in what the sea turtles eat. A few species of sea turtles are carnivores, and they consume animals like squid, sea anemones, sponges, and barnacles, while the herbivores species usually eat algae and seagrasses. A few species are omnivores as well, and they eat both animals and plants.
How Long do They Live?
It is pretty challenging to document the age of a sea turtle, but from many studies, we know that a sea turtle can have a very long lifetime (some as high as 50 years and higher) and are believed to have a lifespan similar to humans. Most turtles living in the sea take around 2 or 3 decades to mature and remain actively reproductive for ten more years.
How do Turtles Swim?
Swimming is a part of the everyday lifestyle for the sea turtles, and to swim, they use all four of their legs and extend them to propel their bodies through the water. They also have webbed feet that help them paddle through the water and come back to the surface when they want to breathe.
A turtle that is done swimming will look for a basking spot. However, stopping at this spot is not just an exercise break; seeking refuge here allows them to raise their internal body temperature and use the full-spectrum light source to absorb nutrients. This is one reason why sea turtles require a base or a platform that allows them to climb out of the water to relax and recharge.
Turtle Anatomy for Children
A sea turtle has simple anatomy, but if you investigate what is happening within the shell, the system is relatively complex and beautiful. Here are a few facts about the anatomy of a sea turtle:
- The shell of a sea turtle has not seen a lot of changes in over 200 million years of evolution, and it still plays a significant role in protecting the sea turtle.
- The inner layer of the shell is created of bones, including the ribs and the backbone. This is the reason why turtles cannot leave their shell.
- The different designs and pigmentation present on the turtle’s shell are due to the melanin present on the scales of the shell.
- Sea turtles have lighter shells when compared to land turtles since lighter ones are suitable for swimming.
- They have a vast number of rod cells present in their eyes’ retinas, which helps provide them with exceptional night vision.
- Turtles have a very rigid beak and strong jaws that can help them chew and cut their food.
- Since sea turtles are almost entirely aquatic, they have flippers instead of normal feet.
- They can swim through the water using their back feet as rudders for steering while the front flippers generate thrust.
- Turtles molt their skins, but they do not do it all at once like snakes. The skin molts continuously in smaller pieces. These might look like smaller sheets of dead skin in the water.
- The majority of the skeletal system in sea turtles is made of bones.
Other Fun Facts and Information About Sea Turtles For Children
Here are some more fun facts about sea turtles that you and your children will surely love:
- Sea turtles are one of the oldest in the world since the oldest sea turtle fossil to ever be discovered was at least 120 million years old. This means that the sea turtles were alive when the dinosaurs existed and later became extinct somewhere around 65 million years ago.
- The world’s biggest Leatherback turtle will travel over 16000 kilometers to feast on their favorite type of jellyfish.
- Only the females go on land to lay eggs, and when it is time, they return to the same nesting grounds they were born in.
- Leatherback sea turtles have not evolved since the age of the dinosaurs!
- Green turtles can stay underwater, holding their breath, for even 5 hours! They do this by slowing their heart rate to as low as 9 minutes between each beat to conserve oxygen. This is a prevalent part of information about Green turtles.
- The largest of all turtles globally is the leatherback turtle, and the adult ones can weigh as much as 900 kilograms.
- Though thousands of young turtles hatch every time, the chances of them making it to adulthood is one in a thousand.
- The gender of the hatchling depends on the nest’s temperature. More females are produced when the nest is hotter, while the males come from a much cooler nest.
- Male turtles spend most of their life in the water because they do not have to return to nest on the land, unlike the females.
- Turtles have glands in their eyes that can help reduce the excess salt from their eyes, making the turtles look like they are crying.
- Turtles can live very long; most of them might reach the age of 100 and more!
- The newborn green sea turtles usually eat other smaller sea animals like insects and worms. Once they grow older, they stop eating meat and become vegetarians. Their diet would mainly include seagrass and algae.
- Greensea turtles become natural lawnmowers for the oceans by consuming the seagrass and preventing it from growing and harming other marine creatures.
- Only after turning 33 years old do the loggerhead sea turtles start mating. When they are old enough, they migrate to the mating grounds, and the female loggerhead chooses their partner.
- Sea turtles can detect the magnetic field of the earth and can use it as a compass.
- Sea turtles cannot get out of their shells because they grow with them, and the bones are connected to the shell.
- Unlike a land turtle, a sea turtle will not be able to retract its head back into its shell.
- Sea turtles have large eyelids on the upper side, and this is used to protect their eyes.
- Sea turtles do not have external ears, but they still can listen.
Sea turtles are attractive, gorgeous, and one of the most intriguing marine animals to learn about. So, take these facts as a starting point and dive into the fascinating world of sea turtles. Considering how they are going extinct, you can encourage your child to learn more about them and take action to save them from becoming extinct in the future!