Tags: Rainforest Library
Costa Rica’s most amazing animal doesn’t even spend that much time in Costa Rica. The Green Sea Turtle is one of the most studied marine reptiles, but surprisingly little is known about the turtle’s habits, lifecycle, or behaviors.
The Green Turtle can’t completely retract its head and neck into their shell. Therefore, the turtles rely heavily on their size and maneuverability to escape average-sized predators.
Green Sea Turtles spend their whole lives in the ocean. Only the females ever return to shore. Females return to shore only to lay their eggs.
Green Sea Turtles live in warm, tropical oceans. They are herbivores and eat mostly sea grasses and algae. Baby sea turtles, called hatchlings, are carnivorous for the first few months of their lives, though. They eat invertebrates and crustaceans to help them gain strength quickly.
Green Sea Turtles average about 3 feet in length and generally weigh well over 300 lbs! It’s a good thing that they spend their lives in the ocean where they are weightless!
Green sea turtles are the world’s most endangered marine reptile. Habitat destruction, water pollution, poaching, and getting caught in fishing nets are only a few of the problems humans create for the Green Sea Turtle.
Sea Turtles’ main predator is humans. Sea turtle eggs, leather, and shells have been hunted for centuries. Even though, the sea turtles are protected by law, poachers still hunt the sea turtle, because they can receive high prices for the turtle eggs, meat, and shells.
A female sea turtle makes her way onto a remote stretch of beach.
The female Green Turtle drags herself onto the beach, digging a shallow depression in the sand that will fit her body. When she’s in, she uses her hind flippers to dig a burrow for the eggs. When she has finished her egg-laying session, which can go as long as 4 hours, she will cover the nest as best as possible to avoid them being traced, and will then return to the sea.
Female Green Sea Turtles navigate the ocean’s currents for most of their lives. Yet, when it is time to lay their eggs, they surprisingly find their way back to the same stretch of beach that they were born on.
Imagine spending your whole life swimming around the Earth’s oceans and still being able to make it back home, even after 2 years! Scientists aren’t sure how a sea turtle is able to perform this navigational wonder. Some believe that the sea turtle uses moon to help navigate.
Female sea turtles lay their eggs once every 2-4 years. Each nest usually consists of 110 eggs, and it takes about 70 days for them to hatch. This may seem like a lot of eggs to you, but scientists estimate that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings ever make it to maturity.
Once a sea turtle hatches, their first instinct is to make their way to the sea. Marine biologists believe that hatchlings use their sense of smell to find their way to the ocean. When a sea turtle is born, their sense of sight is not very good.
Sea turtles need all the help they can get. A young sea turtle’s natural chance for survival is not very high, even without the threat of humans.
Yet the more we study the Green Sea Turtle, the more we can understand this gentle giant of the sea.
A Hatchling’s first instinct is to make a break for the sea. Yet, they’ll have to cross the beach where they’re vulnerable to predators like crabs and seabirds.