Ten Facts about Sea Turtles for World Sea Turtle Day

world sea turtle day

Ten Facts about Sea Turtles for World Sea Turtle Day

In honor of World Sea Turtle Day, here are ten fun facts about our reptilian friends!

  1. Sea turtles are ancient!

Fossil evidence of a 5000 pound sea turtle, measuring 13 feet long and 16 feet wide, was found in South Dakota in the 1970’s. This extinct species of sea turtle, known as Archelon, was thought to have lived in the shallow oceans that covered parts of North America 245 million years ago!  These sea turtles are believed to have only survived for 100 years before this ocean over North America dried up!  

World Sea Turtle Day

Frederic A. Lucas – “Animals of the past” 

2. There are 7 species of sea turtles worldwide!

All 7 of these species are either threatened or endangered. In South Florida waters, we see 5 of these species, but only 3 commonly nest on our beaches! The Loggerhead sea turtle is Florida’s most common nester. It weighs 200 to 400 pounds and mainly feeds on crustaceans. The Green sea turtle weights 300 to 500 pounds and primarily eats sea grasses and algae. They cannot digest the chlorophyll in the plants they eat, so their body fat is green, hence where the origin of their name came from. The Leatherback sea turtle is the world’s largest sea turtles, weighing between 1200 to 2000 pounds! They have specialized teeth-like structures in the back of their throats, which help them eat jellyfish.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Loggerhead sea turtle –

3. Loggerheads love Florida!  

Florida supports 90% of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean’s nesting Loggerhead population! 20% of Florida’s nesting Loggerheads, nest along the east coast of Florida!

Photo Credit: Cheryl L. Sanchez  – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Green sea turtle

4. Sea turtles travel back to the beach they originally hatched on.

Once a sea turtle reaches sexual maturity it will travel back to the beach it once emerged from as a hatchling. The females come back to the area to find mates and lay their legs on the same beaches they were laid on, by their mom. The males will go back to the waters surrounding these beaches to mate with as many females as possible.   

Photo Credit: One World One Ocean – Leatherback migratory patterns between foraging grounds and nesting areas.

5. They have a built in GPS system!

Using magnetic fields and the oceans currents, sea turtles can navigate through the oceans with ease! This ability is what helps them find their way from feeding grounds to the waters they once entered as hatchlings. A Leatherback sea turtle was once reported to have traveled 12,000 miles, round-trip, across the Pacific Ocean!

Photo Credit: Cheryl L. Sanchez – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission –

6. The chicks are hot and the dudes are cool!  

The gender of a sea turtles is dependent on the temperatures throughout the nest! Warmer parts of the nest, 85°F or higher, typically result in more females, whereas lower temperatures, below 85°F, tend to result in more male turtles!  In recent years, with rising temperatures, there is concern that nests will begin to produce more female sea turtles. Even worse, this worldwide increase in temperature could decrease the success rates of nests.

Photo Credit: Samantha Arner – Loggerhead sea turtle crawling to ocean

7. Baby sea turtles are on their own from day one!

Hatchling sea turtles are born with all the instincts they need to survive! After a female sea turtle lays her nest she never returns to check on that clutch of eggs. On their own, the babies will emerge from the nest, and using the light of the moon over the ocean, find their way to the water. From the moment they enter the water, they begin using magnetic fields and ocean currents to find their way to safety.

8. Only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survive!

Sea turtles face a number of threats and obstacles, throughout their lives! Some of the main threats are natural predators and coastal development. Racoons, coyotes, crabs, and birds are responsible for killing a large number of sea turtle hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean. These young, vulnerable creatures, also fall victim to human disturbances. Coastal development has created artificial sky glow, which causes these hatchlings to crawl towards the city instead of to the ocean. They face even more danger, as they enter the water, where large fish lurk. If they are lucky enough to survive to adulthood they still have the potential to fall prey to sharks and with increasing populations, they often suffer fatal boat strike injuries. Biologists estimate that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survive until adulthood, but more recent studies claim that that number could be even fewer, at 1 in 10,000.

9. Sea turtles can live 100 years!

Since there are so many obstacles sea turtles face, how long a sea turtle can live remains a mystery. However, scientists believe that it could be close to a century!  

10. They need your help!

Since all species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered, they need our help! Please keep the use of lights at or near the beach to a minimum at night! Leave no trace behind on the beach. Everything that comes with you, must go home with you! Use the proper garbage and recycling reciprocals and eliminate the waste you are putting into the world! Most importantly, spread these fun facts with your friends and families to help the world understand and appreciate the largest reptile of the sea!

Written by: Samantha Arner

Resources:

  • myfwc.com
  • seeturtles.org
  • oceanconservancy.org

 

 

 

 

Coral Gables Plastic Bag Ban

Coral gables plastic bag banCoral Gables Plastic Bag Ban

Coral Gables has become the first city in Florida to pass a plastic bag ban! This ban means that merchants are not allowed to provide consumers with plastic bags to carry any purchased items. Customers will be responsible for their own reusable bags or shops will need to provide reusable bags for purchase or paper bags. Anyone caught giving out plastic bags in the Gables area, regardless of the businesses size, could face charges. Although this ban may be inconvenient for consumers, environmentalists are thrilled with the change.

Coral gables plastic ban

Why is banning plastic bags important?

According to Conserving Now, plastic in our environment can take between 400 to 1000 years to break down, but as plastic breaks down it becomes more hazardous and harder to eliminate. The plastic makes up 90% of the debris in our oceans and in some places the amount of plastic outnumbers the amount of food sources for marine life.

Jellyfish-eating animals, such as birds, whales, and sea turtles, are the most at risk of these floating plastic junk yards. Plastic bags and other plastic products are often mistaken for these translucent creatures and compromise the digestive tract of the animal. It is estimated that 100,000 marine animals die every year from ingestion of plastic.

Potential impact of the Coral Gables plastic bag ban

Although a large amount of energy will need to go into the production of reusable and paper bags, the hope is that it will help eliminate some of the non-biodegradable waste entering the environment. Coral Gables plastic bag ban is a first step- it is only a small city and plastic bags are only one problem of many, but it is a big feat for the East Coast! The hope is other cities will follow the lead and make this a statewide ordinance.

Instead of avoiding shopping in Coral Gables, we encourage you all to support the cause! Show the rest of Miami, and the state of Florida, we support this ban. Invest in reusable bags and recycle the plastic bags already in your possession. It’s time to be a leader and keep the environment cleaner!  

For more information on the dangers of plastics in our environment and to purchase your very own reusable bags go to conservingnow.com.