Learn A Little More About The 7 Species Of Sea Turtle

Learn A Little More About The 7 Species Of Sea Turtle

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 1st Sep 2016

As one of the most ancient animals on our planet, sea turtles have spent millions of years adapting to become the animals we know today. There are seven different species of sea turtle in the world’s oceans, and today we wanted to take a look at each of them in a little more detail!

Hawksbill Turtle – Critically Endangered

 

Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill turtle takes it's name from it's narrow, pointed beak, however, they are most famous the world over for their shells. Their shells have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales which give them the distinctive look which is so prized on the black market.

Hawksbill turtles can measure anywhere up to 35 inches long and can weigh a whopping 90-150 pounds! They sustain this bulky frame by eating sponges from within coral reefs, and they use their narrow beaks to dig in between the crevices of the coral. They have also been known to enjoy a sea anemone or jellyfish on occasion!

Range

Hawksbill turtles are found all across the world’s oceans.

Hawksbill Turtle Range

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1762127

Loggerhead Turtle - Endangered

Loggerhead Turtle

The Loggerhead turtle is named for its large head which supports powerful jaws to help it crush its preferred prey of clams and sea urchins. This is the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle.

This species of sea turtle can grow up to 48 inches long and weigh a very substantial 400 pounds. If there is not enough of its preferred prey around, the Loggerhead is omnivorous so it has no problem feeding on plant life either! Loggerhead turtles, along with Green sea turtles, are those most likely to be held in captivity.

Range

The Loggerhead nests over the broadest geographic range of any sea turtle. It inhabits the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

Loggerhead Turtle Map

By NOAA - NOAA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9452710

Leatherback Turtle – Critically Endangered

 

Leatherback Turtle

Leatherbacks are named after their extremely distinctive shell which looks unlike that of any other turtle. It has a leather like appearance compared to the tortoise shell design we are used to seeing on many other turtle species.

Leatherback turtles are the largest of all of the sea turtle species and they can reach a weight of up to 1,500 pounds and a length of 63 inches. This large weight is sustained by the abundant jellyfish on California’s coastline every summer and fall!

Range

The Leatherback has a range which stretches across a lot of the world’s seas and oceans. It has been known to visit areas as far north as Alaska and Norway, and as far South as New Zealand and South Africa!

Leatherback Turtle Map

By Pïnpin - Own work using: Inscape, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2205256

Green Turtle – Endangered

Green Turtle

The Green turtle has a rather misleading name, as it is called that due to the greenish colour of its fat and cartilage rather than its shell. In certain parts of the world Green turtles actually have a darker shell and are called Black turtles by the local community!

Green turtles are one of the largest sea turtles and can reach a length of up to 47 inches and a weight of around 400 pounds. They are the only herbivore amongst all of the sea turtle species.

Range

Green turtles are found throughout the tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, and the two major subpopulations live in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.

Green Turtle Map

By Varieront / source of information : [1] - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29903586

Olive Ridley Turtle - Vulnerable

Olive Ridley

Unlike the Green turtle, the Olive Ridley takes its name from the colour of its shell. This is the smallest of all of the species of sea turtle, and they only reach lengths of up to around 28 inches. Even though they are not the biggest, the Olive Ridley turtle still packs a punch as they can weigh up to 110 pounds!

Olive Ridley turtles are currently the most abundant species of sea turtle in the world.

Range

The Olive Ridley is found in most of the world’s warmer oceans, and they are clustered around land as this is where they nest.

Olive Ridley Map

By Pinpin - Own work using: Inscape, with [1], CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22...

Kemp Ridley Turtle - Critically Endangered

Kemp Ridley Turtle

The Kemp Ridley is the rarest turtle species still alive today, and it is one of only two remaining species in the Lepidochelys genus alongside the Olive Ridley.

The Kemp Ridley is a small turtle species, only measuring up to 28 inches, and a maximum weight of 99 pounds. It feeds on small sea creatures such as molluscs, crustaceans, and crabs.

Range

The Kemp Ridley prefers warm waters, and it ranges from the northern tip of South America up to New Jersey in the United States of America.

Kemp Ridley Map

By Pinpin - Own work from Inscape, with [1], CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2207119

Flatback Turtle - Vulnerable

 

Flatback Turtle

The Flatback turtle is called so due to its flattened dome which is lower than that of other sea turtles.

These turtles can reach a length of up to 38 inches, and they can weigh anywhere up to 200 pounds with their diet being an omnivorous one.

Range

The Flatback turtle is only located on the sandy beaches of Australia’s shallow coastal waters.

Flatback Turtle Map

By B kimmel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46586174

With 3 different turtle volunteer opportunities, why not take a look at our projects for ways in which you can get involved with sea turtle conservation.


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