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How do sea turtles avoid predators?

Most sea turtles are predated during their hatchling stage. Their small size and limited swimming speed makes them easy targets for crabs, sea birds, and wild and domestic mammals on their way from their nest to the beach. Synchronized, mass hatching is their main strategy to avoid predators at this stage. Once in the water, hatchlings are still highly predated … Read More

Why are sea turtles important to coral reefs?

One species of sea turtles, the hawksbill can affect reef diversity and succession by simply… eating! Hawksbills prefer eating sponges above anything else, which is very helpful to maintain a high coral cover on a reef. Scleractinian corals and sponges commonly compete for space on reefs, with sponges being more often the superior competitor. Sponges also compete for space, so … Read More

Why do sea turtles matter?

Sea turtles are considered to be what is called a “keystone species”. The herbivorous green turtle and the sponge-eating hawksbill turtles are integral keystone species to any tropical marine ecosystem by performing critical ecological roles that are essential for the structure and function of these ecosystems. For example, it has been suggested that the dramatic decline of these species in … Read More

Do sea turtles have tails?

Yes, sea turtles have tails. In fact, once sea turtles reach sexual maturity, the size of the tail can be used to reliably distinguish between male and female sea turtles. Males develop much longer tails – which may extend past their rear flippers – whereas females tails remain much shorter. The tail of both male and female sea turtles contain … Read More

Which animals eat sea turtles?

Sea turtles have several natural predators; these vary depending upon the sea turtle’s life stage.  Racoons, foxes, coyotes, feral dogs, ants, crabs, armadillos and mongooses can unearth and eat sea turtle eggs before they have the chance to hatch; crabs and birds can eat hatchlings as they run from the nest to the ocean, and fish (including sharks) and dolphins … Read More

How do sea turtles navigate?

Sea turtles use different cues to navigate the oceans. During the very early stage, when a turtle first enters the sea, it uses the direction of the waves for orientation. Usually, swimming directly perpendicular towards the waves will take hatchlings directly seaward and away from the shore. The juvenile turtles do not need to see the waves for that, but … Read More

Why do sea turtles “cry”?

Sea turtles drink seawater to hydrate. Although sea turtles are physically adapted to a saline environment, they need to be able to excrete excess salt. As reptilian kidneys are unable to excrete large volumes of salt via urine, sea turtles evolved specialised secretory glands (lachrymal glands) located in the corner of each eye to remove excess salt. The liquid secreted … Read More

Can sea turtles breathe underwater?

Sea turtles cannot breathe underwater, however they can hold their breath for long periods of time. Sea turtles can hold their breath for several hours depending on their level of activity. For instance, a resting turtle can remain underwater for 4-7 hours whereas a foraging individual may need to surface more frequently. When turtles hold their breath, their heart rate … Read More

Do barnacles hurt sea turtles?

Most barnacles do not hurt sea turtles, as they are only attached to the shell or skin on the outside. Others though burrow into the skin of the host and might cause discomfort and provide an open target area for following infections. Excessive barnacle cover can be a sign of general bad health of a turtle. Usually sea turtles are … Read More

What are barnacles and why do they attach to sea turtles?

Barnacles are a highly specialized group of crustaceans. They have developed a sessile lifestyle as adults, attaching themselves to various substrates such as rocks, ships, whales or to sea turtles. Most commonly found barnacles on sea turtles belong to the genus Chelonibia, named after their host (Chelonia = turtle). Initially, barnacles produce larvae. These early life stages are still mobile … Read More