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
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!
Hawksbill turtles are found all across the world’s oceans.
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1762127
Loggerhead Turtle - Endangered
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.
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.
By NOAA - NOAA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9452710
Leatherback Turtle – Critically Endangered
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!
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!
By Pïnpin - Own work using: Inscape, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2205256
Green Turtle – Endangered
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.
Green turtles are found throughout the tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, and the two major subpopulations live in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
By Varieront / source of information :  - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29903586
Olive Ridley Turtle - Vulnerable
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.
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.
By Pinpin - Own work using: Inscape, with , CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22...
Kemp Ridley Turtle - Critically Endangered
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.
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.
By Pinpin - Own work from Inscape, with , CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2207119
Flatback Turtle - Vulnerable
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.
The Flatback turtle is only located on the sandy beaches of Australia’s shallow coastal waters.
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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Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.
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