How many eggs does a sea turtle lay?

The number of eggs in a nest, called a clutch, varies by species. On average, sea turtles lay 110 eggs in a nest, averaging between 2 to 8 nests a season. The smallest clutches are laid by Flatback turtles, approximately 50 eggs per clutch. The largest clutches are laid by hawksbills, which may lay over 200 eggs in a nest.

In the Maldives predominantly green and hawksbill turtles are nesting. On average green turtles lay a mean of 110 eggs per nest with the largest clutches ever recorded of up to 238 eggs! Our own studies show clutch size to be 82-174 eggs (Lhaviyani Atoll).

Mean clutch size for hawksbills is significantly larger than that with around 150 eggs per nest in the Caribbean, variation is roughly the same with 86-206 eggs per nest. In the Indian Ocean data from the Seychelles shows even higher mean clutch size with 182 eggs per nest (160-242 range).

Nesting Green Sea Turtle

While there is no particular season for green sea turtle nesting in the Maldives, on Six Senses Laamu and the surrounding islands it usually happens between March and August. This green sea turtle crawled on land early in the morning of the 26th of June and dug a nest to lay her eggs.When sea turtles come on land they are more vulnerable because they can only move very slowly and are not well adapted for life out of the water. It is critical to not disturb a sea turtle attempting to nest as she may otherwise abort and crawl back into the ocean. Once a turtle starts laying eggs however, she enters a trance-like state from which she can’t be disturbed. This gives us the opportunity to carefully approach her and collect data such as carapace size, number of eggs and ID-shots of the nesting turtle. Once finished, she thoroughly covers the egg chamber containing 70-125 eggs on average and crawls back down the beach into the ocean.What an amazing event to witness!#greenseaturtle #turtlenest #maldives #seaturtleconservationPacsafe Sea Turtle Conservancy SEE Turtles National Geographic OceanCare

Posted by Olive Ridley Project on Thursday, June 28, 2018
Video © Beth Faulkner, Manta Trust.

References:

  • Hirth HF 1997. Synopsis of the Biological Data on the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758). Vol. 2. Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior.
  • Bjorndal KA, Carr, A, Meylan AB and Mortimer JA 1985. Reproductive Biology of the Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, with Notes on the Ecology of the Species in the Caribbean. Biological Conservation 34: 353-368.
  • Diamond AW 1976. Breeding Biology and Conservation of Hawksbill Turtles, Eretmochelys imbricata L., on Cousin Island, Seychelles. Biological Conservation 9:199-215. (Hughes 1974b)