Sea Turtles

A turtle has a shell on its back and underneath.

Sea turtles live in the ocean.

They only come on land to lay eggs in the sand.

Their front legs are flippers.

There are 7 different kinds of sea turtle.

Sea turtles live in the warmer oceans of the world. They have been in the oceans for about 230 million years - since before the dinosaurs. Their front legs have developed into flippers to help them swim. Sea turtles have a more flattened shape so that they glide through the water as they swim. Sea turtles live in the sea all their lives, but the females come ashore briefly to lay their eggs.

Life Cycle
Most sea turtles return to the beach where they themselves hatched, often travelling hundreds of kilometres to do so. Because their bodies are well developed to a life in the sea, sea turtles move slowly and with difficulty on land. The females drag themselves up the beach to find a spot to dig a hole in which to lay their eggs. It is a long, slow process as each female lays several hundred eggs that look a bit like ping pong balls, then fills in the hole and returns exhausted to the sea. When the eggs hatch, the tiny hatchlings dig out of the sand and dash for the sea. There are many birds, crabs and animals waiting to grab them as they make their way to the sea, where other predators are waiting also. These are natural hazards. Only about 1% of all hatchlings reach adulthood.

Sea turtles feed on jellyfish, seaweed, shrimp, crabs, algae and small molluscs.

There are 7 different kinds of sea turtle:

Green sea turtle, a medium sized turtle weighing about 150 kg.


Green turtle

Kemp's Ridley hatchlings making their way to the ocean.

Kemp's Ridley, the smallest and most endangered sea turtle. It has an oval, olive green shell and weighs about 50 kg.
Hawksbill, a small beautifully patterned turtle weighing about 50-100 kg.

Olive Ridley, weighing about 80 kg, with wide, heart-shaped shell that is olive green on top and greenish underneath.

Leatherback, the largest of the sea turtles today. It has no shell, but instead has a leathery skin with raised stripes. It can reach over a metre in length and can weigh about 700 kg.

Australian Flatback, found only in Australian waters. It has a flattish shell, and weighs about 100 kg.

Loggerhead, weighing about 200 kg, with reddish brown markings.

Conservation Status and Threats
All sea turtles are protected because they are classified as Endangered.
Their numbers are reduced because of human activity, such as capturing or killing adults for food and their shells, taking eggs, the destruction and pollution of nesting beaches, ocean pollution and being caught up in fishing nets.

Find out more about sea turtles here:

Read about 10 things you can do to help save the oceans and the creatures who call it home:

Go here to find out about a turtle's body

If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge it in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. Sea Turtles [Online] Available: [2001]

Updated © kidcyber [2008]

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