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8 Interesting Facts You Should Know About Sea Turtles

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see a sea turtle, you will have felt mesmerized by the way they navigate their world. Sea turtles are generally slow-moving, good-natured, and spend their time grazing on seagrass or nibbling at corals. 

While sea turtles are among the most popular ocean dwellers, most people don’t know much about these fascinating creatures. We’d like to change that! Here are 8 interesting facts we’d like you to know about sea turtles:

1. They Lay Up to 125 Eggs at a Time

Sea turtles spend the majority of their lives in the ocean, but they come up onto land to lay their eggs. They dig each nest in the sand on beaches with their rear flippers, which can be a time-consuming process (it can take up to 3 hours for the mother to return to the ocean). They then lay their eggs and cover them with sand. Sea turtles will lay up to 125 eggs in each nest but will continue to create nests of eggs every two weeks over several months.

2. Sea Turtles are Born Underground

Sea turtles are born underground and then have to dig their way out of the nest. The challenge doesn’t end there for these tiny little turtles – they must then walk across the beach to meet the ocean. Besides the physical challenges of these first hours and weeks, they must also avoid predators on land and in the sea. Typically, only 10% of eggs and hatchlings will grow up to be adult turtles.

3. Those Who Make it Can Live as Long as Us

For the turtles who do make it to adulthood, they face few predators. The only predators they really need to be wary of are sharks (particularly Tiger sharks) and for leatherback turtles, killer whales. Those who avoid predators like these can live to be 70-80 years old.

4. The Sex of the Turtles is Determined By Temperature

Turtles have a unique quality, in that the sex of the hatchlings can be determined by the temperature of the nest. Nests at a cooler temperature usually produce males, while warmer nests produce females. If the nest temperature fluctuates, so will the number of each sex.

5. All Sea Turtles Nest at Night - Except One

All species of sea turtle lay their eggs at night when there are fewer predators and people around to disrupt them. There is one exception to this rule, however – Kemp’s Ridley turtles often nest during the day.

6. Leatherback Sea Turtles are Ancient

Leatherback sea turtles are like a very small number of creatures on the planet – they were around in a very similar form when the dinosaurs roamed, over 110 million years ago. That’s 15 million years longer than alligators and crocodiles!

7. Sea Turtles Can’t Go Inside Their Shells

Unlike tortoises and other types of turtles, sea turtles cannot retract inside their shells. They are designed to swim quickly and efficiently, so there is no extra room inside their shells for them to fill.

8. They Can Slow Their Heartbeat for One Beat Per 9 Minutes

You may already know that sea turtles can hold their breath for hours – most up to five hours, and can even sleep underwater. However, what most people don’t know is that they can do this because they can slow their heart rate down to just one beat every 9 minutes to conserve oxygen!

Sea turtles are fascinating creatures, but they are also one of the species most affected by plastic pollution in our oceans. They regularly digest plastic which can cause serious health issues, and they can get caught up in loose plastic in the water and on the beaches they hatch on. All the more reason to do our part to reduce plastic pollution!