The Sea Turtle

By Claire Waskow

Sea Turtle's Body Parts

Did you know that when a sea turtle is born, it are only 2 inches long? The sea turtle eventually grows up to be 3-4 feet long, even though they start out so small. Adult sea turtles can weigh more than 700 pounds! There is seven different species of sea turtles; the Leatherback sea turtle, Green sea turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle,Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle, Flatback sea turtle, and the Olive Ridley sea turtle. There are more species of turtles that live on land and in forests. Sea turtles like all other reptiles are cold-blooded, bout the sea turtle is the only reptile that has a shell. The sea turtle needs it's shell because it is the only way a sea turtle can protect itself. The main parts of the sea turtle's shell is the ribs and backbone, and the dermal plates. The top shell is called the carapace, the the lower shell is called the plastron. These two parts are connected by cartilage. There are so many interesting parts of a sea turtle!

Sea Turtle's Growth

Can you believe that it takes about two months for a baby sea turtle to hatch? Two weeks after a baby sea turtle hatches, the turtle's egg tooth, the tooth that he used to crack open the egg, goes away! Baby sea turtles stay in deep water and find food in floating beds of seaweed. Also, the seaweed helps the turtle camouflage because the turtle's shell is the same color as the seaweed. The baby sea turtle eats plankton for a while until he gets a little older. After a year, the turtle's shell is about the size of a dinner plate! The baby sea turtle starts out small but grows very quickly!

The Journey to the Sea

Did you know that it takes 45-70 days for a baby sea turtle to break out of it's egg? And that's only the first step! Next, they climb out the nest, in a coordinated effort. The temperature of the sand determines which gender the turtle will be. Between predators and how small the turtles are, it's no wonder why it takes a few days to get to sea. Only 1 in every 1,000 turtles survive each year. That's why turtles lay so many eggs! Finally, an event called the swimming frenzy occurs. It occurs because it is very easy for predators to catch and eat the baby sea turtles when they are in shallow water. If the turtle survives through that, they begin their lost years.

Life Cycle

The beginning of a turtle's life cycle is when the female turtle lays her eggs. Next, it takes 6 weeks-2 months for the baby turtles to hatch. Then, the turtles wad into the sea and begin their lost years. The lost years are called the lost years because no one knows the turtle's wheatherbouts. The lost years last about a decade, and by the time the turtle comes out of their lost years, their shell is the size of a dinner plate. Depending on the species, it can take 10-50 years for a turtle to be ready to mate. The turtle will nest several times during a span of 2-4 years. A turtle's life span is usually 100-150 years, and by the time they pass away, they've probably had a pretty good live.

The Sea Turtle vs. The Tortoise

Differences

Most people think that sea turtles and tortoises are the same thing, but they are actually quite different. First of all, tortoises first appeared on this earth 2-3 million years ago while sea turtles appeared over 200-300 million years ago! And, while sea turtles are meant for swimming, tortoises are actually very bad swimmers! Also, there are only seven species of sea turtles while there are more than 300 species of tortoises. Tortoises are herbivores, eating grass, flowers, shrubs and even cacti! Sea turtles are mainly Omnivorous, eating plants, fish, worms and insects. Also, sea turtles have webbed feet while tortoises have blunt, club shaped feet. One final fact is that tortoises usually live over age 125 while sea turtles only live for 60-70 years.

Similarities

While sea turtles and tortoises have some differences, they also are very much alike. For example, sea turtles and tortoises both live in all continents except Antarctica. Also, they both lay about 100-150 eggs per sitting. Another cool fact is that sea turtles and tortoises both bury their eggs. Also, they both have a hard shell and scales. Tortoises and sea turtles are both part of the kingdom Animalia. Turtles and tortoises are very different but at the same time very much alike.

Tears In the Sea

Sea turtles are interesting underwater creatures. Sadly, there are many issues that hae been bringing sea turtle numbers down. One problem is that sea turtle eggs are being stolen out of nests by humans and animals. This makes it so less baby sea turtles make it to sea. In some places scientists are fixing this by moving the eggs to special fenced in areas. When the eggs hatch, the scientists move the hatchlings back to the spot they were born. Finally, scientists put the hatchlings back into the water.


Another issue is that people have houses along the coastline of some major nesting sites. This is a problem because the female sea turtles refuse to go onto land to lay their eggs because of the bright lights. This problem can be solved by asking the government to put big wooden shelters along the major nesting sites. Then, the females could lay their eggs in a peaceful, dark quiet area.



Fibropapillomatosis

Almost everyone in the world use chemicals that are in cleaning products and pesticides. If you do, then you've probably noticed that the labels on the bottles always tell you never to drink the product. Sadly, the chemicals are ending up under the sea, and when sea turtles ingest the chemicals, they grow a tumor called Fibropapillomatosis. This tumor grows on sea turtles' eyes, neck, and head. This tumor effects their eyesight, swimming, and ability to hunt for food.