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Turtles that live in the ocean are called sea turtles. Different types of sea turtles can be found throughout the world and in every ocean except for the Arctic Ocean, which is too cold. Generally, sea turtles prefer warm seas and stay in shallow coastal areas like lagoons and bays, but they are sometimes found in deeper ocean waters as well.
They are Reptiles
Sea turtles are from the animal class of reptile. This means they are cold-blooded, have scaly skin, breathe air, and lay eggs. There are seven types of species of sea turtles. These include loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley, hawksbill, flatback, green, and Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Sometimes the Black sea turtle is considered an eighth species of sea turtle.
How big do they get?
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Sea turtles come in all different sizes. The largest is the leatherback which can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh well over 1,000 pounds! The smallest are the olive ridley and the Kemp's ridley turtles. They grow to around 2 feet long and 100 pounds.
Do they have a shell?
Like other turtles, sea turtles have a hard shell that acts as armor and protects them from predators. The top side of the shell that we see is called the carapace. Different species have different shaped shells. Some are oval and some are more heart shaped. Sea turtles don't retract into their shells like some turtles.
Sea turtles have flippers that enable them to swim well. These flippers can also help propel them on land, but not very well, making sea turtles easy prey to predators on land. The front flippers are used to propel the turtle through the water while the back flippers are used for steering. Sometimes the back flippers are used for digging holes where the turtle lays eggs.
What do they eat?
Depending on the species and age of the turtle, sea turtles eat all kinds of food including sea grass, seaweed, crabs, jellyfish, and shrimp.
Baby Sea Turtles
Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Grown sea turtles have very few predators. However, baby Sea turtles are highly vulnerable when they are born. Mother sea turtles lay lots of eggs on the beach in a hole they dig. Then the mothers leave and go back into the ocean. The eggs are left defenseless and become prime food for many predators. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings head for the water. They are very vulnerable to predators during this time.
Fun Facts about Sea Turtles
- Many sea turtles can hold their breath for over 30 minutes.
- Leatherback sea turtles have been known to dive over 1000 feet deep in the ocean.
- Sea turtles don't need a supply of fresh water. They can live off of the water they get from their food.
- Sea turtles sometimes look like they are crying. These tears are from special glands that allow them to get rid of extra salt they get by living in salt water oceans.
- The fastest turtles are the leatherbacks which have been known to swim at speeds of over 20 miles per hour.
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
For more about reptiles and amphibians:
Alligators and Crocodiles
Eastern Diamondback Rattler
Colorado River Toad
Gold Poison Dart Frog
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