Every diver loves turtles, right? They are cute and some are really friendly and let divers come close or even swim towards us underwater.
They also make great objects for underwater photographers as they often sit still and give enough time to get the perfect shot.
Find 15 facts about these fascinating creatures below.
- There are 7 species of sea turtle: green, loggerhead, hawksbill, flatback, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and olive ridley. Most commonly seen by divers are the first three.
- The leatherback is the largest sea turtle. It usually grows up to 2 m in length and 1 m width, the largest recorded was 3 m long.
- Sea turtles cannot retract head and legs into the shield like other turtles can.
- Most sea turtles have a hard shell except for the leatherback that has a leathery skin with bony plates underneath.
- Sea turtles are ancient animals, the first one lived around 150 million years ago.
- Leatherbacks can dive down to 1000 m.
- Sea turtles have to swim to the surface to breath. How often they have to do this depends on their activity level. A sleeping turtle can stay underwater for up to 7 hours.
- Sea turtles reach sexual maturity with 10 to 50 years depending on the species.
- Most species will then nest ever two to four years. During each nesting season they will nest several times.
- Sea turtles only leave the water to lay eggs. With the back flippers they dig a hole, lay around 100 eggs and then close the hole again. It does look like a dance when they put the sand back in to make sure no predator finds the eggs.
- The temperature of the sand where the eggs are laid determines the gender of the little turtles. Warmer temperatures lead to females.
- The hatchlings may need up to one week to dig themselves out of the hole and they have to do so as a group.
- To find the ocean the baby turtles walk towards light. As they hatch at night this is mostly the moonlight reflected on the ocean. They avoid shadows.
- Only 1 in 1000 turtles will survive to adulthood.
- To lay eggs sea turtles will go back to the place they were born.