about sea turtles
who we are
Scientists estimate sea turtles have been around for 100 million years or more. Sea turtles, like all turtles and tortoises are reptiles and though they spend part of their lifetime in water, they breathe air. Their shells are formed by an upper part, called the carapace and a lower section, the plastron. The carapace is covered in hard scales and the number and arrangement helps with the identification of the species.
Sea turtles do not have teeth. They have beaks which are adapted to their diet. They do not have ears, but have an excellent sense of smell. Sea turtles have good eyesight underwater, but they are short sighted when on land. The shape of the body and flippers makes them efficient under water. They can migrate for thousands of kilometers.
Females come to land during nesting season. They return to the beach where they hatched to lay their own eggs. That is the only time they are on land. The males never come ashore with one surprising exception—the Eastern Pacific green turtle that takes to land and basks in the sun outside of nesting times.
The sex of the sea turtle is determined by the temperature at which their eggs incubate. The warmer part of the nest produces more males and the cooler part of the nest produces more females. Once hatchlings reach the sea, they are thought to float in sargasm and seaweed beds. Depending on their species, sea turtles reach sexual maturity between the ages of 22 and 36.
Knowing where turtles nest is important. Policy makers and coastal developers can craft conservation management plans to help reverse the trend of depleting populations. Look at this link “Atlas of Sea Turtle Nesting Habitat in the Caribbean” for more information about this topic: http://seamap.env.duke.edu.
Threats to Turtles
Endangered Species Information