Sea Turtles-Seven Amazing Facts!

Loggerhead Sea TurtleThey are Ancient.

Fossils date back about 150 million years, making sea turtles some of the oldest creatures on Earth. Dinosaurs couldn’t handle the conditions 65 million years ago and became extinct (sissies).  Not Sea turtles, they just keep on going – like the pink rabbit selling batteries banging a drum…

Sea Turtle Migration MapThey are the Original Long-haul Commuters – With Built in GPS.

Sea turtles migrate tens of thousands of miles over their lifetimes to eat, breed and lay their eggs.  A female leatherback turtle was documented traveling 12,000-miles round trip, across the Pacific Ocean and back! Turtles have a special tool to navigate these epic voyages,(and it is not a smart phone).  They possess an internal GPS using the earth’s magnetic field. Turtles sense slight variations in the planet’s magnetic field and are able to pinpoint specific coastlines based on their magnetic signature. Many females sea turtles are able to return to the exact beach where they were born to lay their eggs.

underwater sea turtleThey can Hold Their Breath for a really (really, really) Long time.

Green sea turtles can hold their breath for up to 5 hours.  Let’s put that in perspective;   Sperm whales make some of the longest dives achieved by mammals, lasting up to 90 minutes.  Dolphins and other whales stay underwater for 20 minutes. The longest time a human has held their breath under water is 19 minutes – set by a Swiss freediver called Peter Colat.  So, in comparison, five hours is a really (really, really) long time!

Male-entire-life-at-seaMale Sea Turtles Spend Their Entire Lives at Sea – Hey Sailor!

Since they don’t have to return to land to lay eggs, males almost never leave the ocean. Sea turtles are generally solitary creatures and remain submerged for much of the time they are at sea, which makes them extremely difficult to study. They rarely interact with one another outside of courtship and mating (sounds like most married couples).

turtle-tearsSometimes They Cry.

No, not because they are sad.  Nesting sea turtles appear to shed tears and there are tales told that the mother is crying because the nesting process is so difficult, or because so many of her eggs are stolen by man (which is sad but true), or because she will never see her tiny hatchlings.  The fact is, all sea turtles “cry,” whether they are on land or in the sea.   These salty secretions are the turtles’ way of ridding their body of excess salt consumed in the ocean.

can't-pull-into-shellSea Turtles Can’t Retreat Into Their Shell.

The sea turtle’s shell evolved from the ribs into a box of bone covered in tough skin. The shell is part of the turtle’s spine and forms an outer skeleton – much like the exoskeletons of insects and spiders. Unlike their land turtle relatives, sea turtles cannot retract their head and flippers into their shell. This makes them more vulnerable to predators and other threats like entanglement in marine debris and fishing nets.

sea-turtle-extinctionThey are in DEEP Trouble – and it is Our Fault.

There are seven species of sea turtles, six of which are either threatened or endangered. Humans pose the biggest threat to a sea turtle’s survival.  Sea turtles often drown when caught in fishing gear. Coastal development is destroying important nesting sites and impacting coral reefs.  Pollution like plastic bags are often mistaken for food such as jellyfish and ingested, blocking their intestines and potentially killing them. In many countries, they are hunted for their meat and shells and their eggs are eaten.

Sea turtles have survived everything nature could throw at them for 150 million years – even what the dinosaurs could not survive.  Yet, in just a few generations, man will have driven this creature into extinction – forever.  What a catastrophic loss…

 

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