“They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all…”
Whales Weep Not, by D.H. Lawrence
I know when Lawrence wrote this he was referring to whales, but every time I think about a creature beneath the sea, I think of this line. And this week we’re going to take a quick look at one of the sea’s most fascinating and I think loved creatures, the Sea Turtle.
There are seven species of sea turtles and they live in warm tropical waters. Of the seven listed below, six of them can be found in the waters off Australia. We’ll talk a little bit about sea turtles in general and then I have a wonderful video that summarizes most of them. Below is a map that shows their range.
Sea turtles are reptiles and one of the oldest family of creatures on the planet. It is estimated that they have been around for 110 million years. That would mean that they were alive at the time of the dinosaurs.
Green Sea Turtle – endangered
Hawksbill Sea Turtle – critically endangered
The major difference between sea turtles and other turtles is that sea turtles cannot retract their legs and heads into their shell, and their shell, which is also called a ‘carapace,’ is streamlined for swimming. They are terrific swimmers and the Green Sea Turtle has been known to stay underwater for seven hours! That’s truly spectacular diving. Most sea turtles will dive in order to feed, and their dives, on average, last about five minutes. Their heart rate slows in order for them to be able to stay beneath the surface for long periods of time. There may be as much as nine minutes in between heartbeats.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle– endangered
Leatherback Sea Turtle – critically endangered
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – critically endangered
Sea turtles migrate hundreds of miles to the nesting grounds from which they were hatched. Female turtles will come ashore and dig a hole with their back flippers. They deposit their eggs in the hole and cover it over with dirt and sand. After they lay their eggs, the females return to the sea, leaving their babies to hatch on their own and make their way to the sea.
Flatback Sea Turtle– endangered (Arkive – data deficient)
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle – vulnerable
Here’s that wonderful video I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Hope you have learned a bit about sea turtles today. Like many of the other animals that I highlight on this blog, sea turtles are endangered and deserve our attention and protection. Much is being done to help them, including banning the sale of products from turtles. However, like many other legally applied restrictions, this is difficult to monitor. The very best we can do is protect their nesting sites. The Mexican government has done just that and you can read more about it by clicking on the below link. We can make a difference.
Finally, one more video, which I think is heartening. The Malaysians have saved the Green Sea Turtle, which was in serious decline. Well, I’ll let David Attenborough tell you all about it.
My sincere thanks to Arkive.org for the wonderful pictures and some of the information. Please visit their web site. I have listed their link in ‘Citations and References.’
I have included a list of other sites that you might like to visit if you want to learn more about sea turtles.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!
Citations and References: