Let’s Learn About Our Annual Visitors: 10 Amazing Facts About Sea Turtles
by Lou-Ann Jordan May 3, 2022
With the turtle nesting season now open, we imagine many of you may head to the nesting grounds to look at nature at work.
There is something magical about the process. The female turtles make a laborious journey up the shore, dig a nest with repeated brushes of their flippers, lay their eggs, conceal them with sand, and head back to sea. Later, the hatchlings are left to make their way into the open ocean to join their mothers.
This annual ritual takes place at various locations along the Caribbean coastline. To varying degrees, the green, hawkbill, leatherbacks, and loggerheads have populations on some of the islands. For example, there are greater concentrations of leatherbacks in Grenada and Trinidad than in the Bahamas. In comparison, hawksbill turtles are common in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and are joined by the green sea turtles in Montserrat. The leatherback, green and hawksbill nest in St. Lucia, Bonaire and BVI. However, all four species can be found in Aruba.
As you head off with the kids to see these remarkable creatures, we thought we might share some amazing facts about our annual visitors.
Amazing facts about Sea Turtles
1. A sea turtle’s nest’s temperature plays an essential role in the hatchlings’ sex.
2. Sea turtles differ from their freshwater cousins in that they cannot retract into their shells.
3. Of the various species of sea turtles, the leatherbacks weigh the most, between 660 pounds and 1,500 pounds, while typically, the Hawksbill turtles, which are 100-150 pounds, weigh the least.
4. Hawksbill turtles reach maturity between 20 to 35 years and typically live up to 60 years.
5. Green turtles have earned their names from their fat and not their shells. A diet primarily comprising seagrasses and algae results in their fat appearing greenish.
6. Hawksbill turtles are so-named because their tapered heads and pointed jaw resemble a hawk.
7. Sea turtles as terrific swimmers because of their shells and flippers, which help them move through the water gracefully.
8. Although sea turtles come up for air, as cold-blooded reptiles, they spend most of their time underwater. The Green sea turtle is known to stay submerged for five hours.
9. In addition to being agile swimmers, Leatherback sea turtles are excellent divers and can go as deep as 1,000ft.
10. Female sea turtles nest under the cloak of night. They are susceptible to artificial light as it can be disorienting for them and their hatchlings.
We hope you enjoy your visit with the turtles. Remember, they’re an endangered species, so be careful to follow your guide’s instructions.
Sources: NOAA Fisheries, Unitebvi Foundation and Sea Turtle.