11 incredible turtle facts to celebrate World Turtle Day
Get to know more about these amazing creatures (that have been around even before dinosaurs roamed the earth!)
May 23rd is World Turtle Day, so what better time to celebrate all the different species of turtles that live in the world’s oceans? Turtles are a key part of the marine ecosystem, which includes some of the most productive and biodiverse places in the world. It’s important that we preserve our oceans amidst the threats they face, and you can learn more about marine conservation with our free online course here.
1. There are 7 different species of sea turtles. These are: green, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley, hawksbill, flatback, and leatherback.
2. Sea turtles aren’t able to retract inside their shells, and despite what you may have seen in TV and films, no turtle is able to take off their shell!
3. Turtles are some of the oldest creatures on earth, thought to date all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.
4. The sex of a turtle is determined by the temperature of their surroundings. While in most species, gender is determined during fertilisation, it’s the temperature of the incubating eggs that decides a turtle’s sex. Warmer temperatures tend to produce females, and a colder climate seems to result in males.
5. Turtles don’t have teeth – instead, their jaws have modified beaks. Carnivorous turtles have a sharp hooked beak they can use to kill their prey, whereas vegetarian turtles have broad, flat beaks perfect for eating plants.
6. Turtles have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them to track down food in dark, murky waters.
7. Incredibly, turtles return to the beaches where they first hatched when they migrate to nesting areas to breed. Scientists believe turtles are able to do this by using coastlines’ magnetic fields, which give them an ‘internal compass’.
8. Out of the 7 species of sea turtle, 6 are listed either as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN Red List.
9. Turtles can travel thousands of miles during their migration between foraging and nesting grounds. The leatherback turtle can travel 10,000 miles a year.
10. Green turtles can stay underwater for up to 5 hours at a time, during which their heart rate can slow down to one heartbeat every NINE minutes.
11. The biggest threat to sea turtles is human activity. Turtles are poached for their eggs, meat, skin and shells. They can also be accidentally captured by fishing gear, which often results in death.
To learn more about marine wildlife and how to conserve our oceans, try our free online course and become an ocean optimist now!