Sea turtles have been around for millions of years and are essential to specific ecosystems. They can be found in different locations across the globe but mostly in similar tropical climates. Sadly they are becoming an endangered species due to environmental changes that our planet is facing.
Here are nine satisfying facts about the sea turtle.
The leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle
An adult leatherback turtle can grow up to around 5.9-7.2 feet (1.8-2.2 meters) long. They are the largest sea turtle species, and a fully grown adult can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). They are the fourth heaviest modern reptile, with three heavier species of crocodile. Leatherbacks are also the only sea turtle to have a soft shell. Their back is made from carapace, which is like a tough, rubbery skin.
A sea turtle’s sex is determined by temperature
When a sea turtle egg is laid in its nest, it is neither male nor female. Unlike most creatures where sex is determined during fertilization, the temperature of the nest’s environment is the decider of sex for sea turtles.
If the temperature is warmer than 82-84 °F (28-29 °C), the hatchling will be born female. If the temperature is below, then the sea turtle will be born male. Scientists have noticed a correlation in the warmer the sand, the higher the number of female hatchlings.
Sea turtles have a commensal relationship with barnacles
A commensal relationship between animals often occurs when one benefits from being attached to the other animal. In this situation, some barnacles benefit from growing and attaching themselves to sea turtles. They will usually attach to the neck or shell of the sea turtle.
There are three main reasons why sea turtles make great hosts for barnacles. The first is that they live a long time; therefore, the barnacle does not have to worry about its host dying and finding a new home. However, this security can sometimes fail as a barnacle may attach itself to an area of skin or shell which the turtle ends up shedding.
There are seven different species of sea turtles
The seven sea turtles are Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemps ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Flatback (Natator depressus), and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).
The leatherback turtle can be found on both the east and west coast of the USA, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. However, flatbacks are only found off the coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Olive ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Indian Ocean.
Turtle tourism is a thing in Costa Rica
Some countries such as Costa Rica have turned their tourism to focus on sea turtles. Known as ecotourism, it has become popular to visit sea turtle conservation projects for your vacation. Tortuguero, Costa Rica, is considered to be the founding place for this concept.
They ditched their sea turtle meat and shell tourism for conservation and ecotourism. The Caribbean Conservation Corporation helped locals set up a sea turtle-protected area, where tourists can see turtles nesting and hatching with a local guide.
Sea turtles were once worshipped
The Moche people of Peru worshipped sea turtles. The Moche civilization lived on the northeast coast of Peru from around 100 AD to 700 AD. Being an agricultural civilization and known for their fishing, it is no wonder that they would have worshipped the sea turtle. Many artworks and artifacts depict sea turtles, which would suggest they were vital in Moche society.
The oldest sea turtle is 120 million years old!
Sea turtle fossils and skeletons reveal that they once lived alongside dinosaurs. Sea turtles are one of the few reptiles that have outlived dinosaurs that are still alive today. However, the specific sea turtle species found in Villa De Leyva, Colombia, is now extinct. The Desmatochelys padillai turtle skeleton was dug up in 2007 by paleontologist Mary Luz Parra and her brothers.