Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle Biology


Green Turtle © Lauren Arthur

Sea turtles have existed on Earth since 120 million years ago. There are currently seven species (or types) of sea turtles, but there were once many more.

Sea turtles have a soft or bony shell, flipper-like limbs, and spend most of their lives in the sea. Their bodies have adapted to life in the ocean; they can hold their breath for long periods of time and they hydrate by drinking salt water and expelling the salt from glands behind their eyes.

Sea turtles have excellent vision and senses of smell underwater. They also have amazing navigational abilities, and are able to find their way across entire oceans by using the magnetic field of the earth (similar to birds) which creates a type of map for them in their brains. They must also have a sense of time, as some turtles nest all together over a span of only a few days.

Sea turtles are long-lived reptiles, a group of animals that also includes snakes, lizards, and crocodiles, all of which share the following characteristics:

  • Scaly skin;
  • Cold-blooded (their body temperature depends on the temperature of their surroundings);
  • Air breathers.

Sea Turtles of the Indian Ocean

5 types of sea turtles can be found in the Indian Ocean:

Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles are less common in the Indian Ocean than the Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles.

For help in identifying sea turtle species, consult our Sea Turtles Identification Key.

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