How far do sea turtles travel?

Juvenile hawksbill turtle swimming on reef Maldives
Juvenile hawksbill turtle, Maldives
© Chiara Fumagalli

In the Maldives, the turtles we observe on the reefs show extremely high site fidelity, meaning they do not, in general, move from reef to reef to find food but have a “home reef”.

Upon reaching maturity most species travel long distances every few years for a breeding migration (from their feeding grounds to their breeding sites and back). These migrations can be hundreds or thousands of kilometers and take several months.

The leatherback turtle can travel 16,000 km (10,000 miles) or more each year, crossing the entire Pacific Ocean in search of jellyfish, while loggerheads have been tracked traveling from Japan to Baja, a distance of 13,000 km (8,000 miles). The longest recorded green turtle migration was 3,979 km (2,472 miles) from Chagos to Somalia.