- Genus/ Species: Sea Turtles are grouped into seven species and six genera. Their scientific names are Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Dermochelys coriacea, Eretmochelys imbricate, Lepidochelys kempii, Lepidochelys olivacea and Natator depressa The common names of the different types of sea turtles are Loggerhead , Green turtle, Leatherback turtle, Hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, Olive ridley and Flatback.
- Conservation status: Endangered to Critically Endangered. Three of the seven species are critically endangered.
- Location: In warm and temperate seas throughout the world
Sea Turtles are some of the largest turtles in the world and live in almost every ocean on the planet. They spend almost all their lives submerged. Adults of most sea turtle species are found in shallow, coastal waters, bays, lagoons, and estuaries, while some venture into the open ocean too. Sea turtles fall into one of two families- those which have shells covered with horny plates known as scutes and the leatherback turtle, which has a leathery skin. Their smooth shells and paddle-like flippers help sea turtles speed through water- but on land, they are very slow movers indeed. These long-distance travelers have been known to swim up to thousands of miles in one year.
The leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle species. It is almost as long as an adult human is tall. However, it is much, much heavier than an adult- some leatherback turtles weigh as much as seven adults! On the other hand, the Kemp’s ridley is one of the smallest turtles. It is only about 2 ft long. Depending on the species, sea turtles may be carnivorous or meat eating, herbivorous or plant eating, or omnivorous –eating both meat and plants.
Sea turtles are threatened by extinction due to the illegal collection of their eggs as well as illegal hunting. Their nesting areas are being destroyed by coastal development and global climate change. The increasing pollution of the oceans is killing them too. You can help by making a donation to the World Wildlife Fund’s rehabilitation program for sick and injured sea turtles.
Did You Know?
- Sea turtles have existed for around 215 million years.
- Sea turtles have special glands which help remove salt from the water they drink.
- Olive ridley turtles lay their eggs on the same beach where they were born. Turtles always return to the same nesting site year after year, even if they have to migrate thousands of miles.
- Sea turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time.