Good Morning everyone! How’s everybody doing? Well, hopefully 🤞🏽 I’m not going to talk about what’s been in the news (I.e. referring to Lockdown being extended in the U.K – if you weren’t aware) as I know that it’s a bit of a touchy subject at the moment with a lot of people, and everyone has an opinion on the matter, which I totally respect, so I wont. Instead, before I get on with my post I have to say, Boy has it been hot this past week, hope everyone is managing to keep cool. I’m gonna admit that I haven’t been enjoying this weather as much as some people, the heat has really been getting to me, making my headaches worse and just feeling generally unwell, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s gonna pass soon.
On with today’s post…
World Sea Turtle Day, June 16th, is a day used to honor and highlight the importance of sea turtles. These creatures, like any other creature, are magnificent in their own way. Not only are sea turtles beautiful animals, but they also show incredible perseverance and resiliency – after all, they have been nesting on beaches for millions of years.
Sea Turtle Day
Sea turtles live in tropical and subtropical waters. While they spend most of their time in water, they tend to stay close to land. This particularly is the case for females, who lay eggs on the sand. Notably, sea turtles usually nest on the same beaches they hatched on. Sea turtles sense the Earth’s magnetic fields and use them to navigate, sometimes migrating thousands of miles. Sea turtles grow slowly, taking 15 to 50 years to reach maturity, and some live to be over 100 years old! World Sea Turtle Day helps to ensure that they have the opportunity to reach such a ripe old age!
World Sea Turtle Day would not be rightfully celebrated without mentioning, Dr. Archie Carr, STC’s founder and “father of sea turtle biology.” World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated the same day as Dr. Carr’s birthday, June 16. Dr. Carr will forever be remembered for the enhancement of the sea turtle conservation movement and the legacy he has left behind. His research and advocacy brought the attention to the threatening conditions that continue to impact sea turtles. His work highlighted the issue and helped create the community that continues to strive for a better life and future for sea turtles.
Dr. Carr realized early on what many know today about the importance of sea turtles. Sea turtles perform many important tasks that contribute to the well-being of sea life and the environment. For example, leatherbacks and hawksbills sea turtles help keep the populations of jellyfish and sponges in check. Green sea turtles on the other hand eat sea grass. Like regular grass, sea grass needs to be kept short to ensure it’s healthy and that it continues to grow along the ocean. Without sea turtles, grass beds will grow into grass blades and become detrimental to marine life. Grass beds provide a place for breeding and development for many species of fish. Assuring the upkeep of these grass beds is crucial to keeping marine animals healthy.
- Green sea turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they are primarily herbivores, eating mostly sea grasses and algae. This diet is what gives their cartilage and fat a greenish color (not their shells), which is where their name comes from.
- Sand temperature is very important. The sex of sea turtles, like many other turtles, is determined by the temperature in the nest. Cooler incubation temperatures produce male hatchlings and warmer incubation temperatures produce female hatchlings. Temperatures that fluctuate between the two extremes will produce a mix of male and female hatchlings.
- Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their flippers and head into their shells. Their streamlined shells and large paddle-shaped flippers make them very agile and graceful swimmers. In the water, their rear flippers are used as rudders, for steering.
- Seven species of sea turtles can be found in every ocean around the world. They are; Leatherback, Green Turtle, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley and the Flatback. Sadly all seven species are threatened or endangered at the hand of humans.
- Sea turtles are deep divers and can stay underwater for long periods of time. As reptiles, sea turtles breathe air, but they have the ability, under natural conditions, to remain submerged for hours at a time. They even sleep underwater. Most sea turtles spend their entire life at sea, only returning to nesting beaches to lay eggs. However, in the Pacific Islands, green turtles often come ashore to bask on the beach.
- Leatherbacks are highly migratory, some swimming more than 10,000 miles a year between nesting and foraging grounds. They are also accomplished divers with the deepest recorded dive reaching nearly 4,000 feet—deeper than most marine mammals. They have spiny “papillae” lining their mouth and esophagus—these spines help them trap and consume their main prey species, jellyfish.
- It is estimated that only one out of 1,000 hatchlings survives to be an adult. They have many natural predators including birds, crabs, fish, and mammals like raccoons. But the female adults can lay thousands of eggs over their lifetimes, so at least a few of them survive to maintain the species.
- Turtles don’t have teeth. They use their beak-like mouth to grasp their food. This beak is made of keratin (the same stuff your fingernails are made of).
- Turtle shells are made of over 50 bones fused together – so they’re literally wearing their bones on the outside. They also have light, spongy bones that help them float.
- Marine turtle species vary greatly in size. The smallest, Kemp’s ridley, measure around 70cm long and weigh up to 40kg, whilst the leatherback can reach up to 180cm long and weigh 500kg. That’s over 10 times heavier! Wales holds the world record for the largest marine turtle ever found. In 1988, a leatherback was found ashore measuring 2.5 m long, 2.5 m from flipper to flipper, and weighing over 900kg (that’s more than 140 stone)!
- Female leatherbacks make some strange noises when they’re nesting – some of which sound similar to a human belch.
- Turtles seem to prefer red, orange and yellow food – they appear to investigate these colors more than others when looking for a meal.
- Marine turtles can migrate incredibly long distances – the longest known record is for a female leatherback who swam nearly 13,000 miles over 647 days from Indonesia to the west coast of America. That’s over 20 miles a day.
- Females return to the same beach they hatched on, to lay their own eggs and bury them in sand ‘nests’. Marine turtles’ amazing ability to navigate comes from their sensitivity to the Earth’s magnetic fields.
- The oldest known sea turtle fossil is at least 120 million years old, making sea turtles some of the oldest creatures on the planet. That means they shared the planet with dinosaurs which became extinct around 65 million years ago.
What You Can Do To Help Them:
- Turn Out Lights Visible From the Beach: Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. Artificial lighting confuses the hatchlings and causes them to head inland instead of out to sea – putting them in dangerous situations which can lead to death. Artificial lights also discourage adult females from nesting on the beach. Short of turning off your lights, you can also take measures to shield, redirect and lower the intensity of the lights on your property.
- Volunteer: There are countless ways in which you can make a positive difference in the lives of sea turtles. Organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger.
- Recycle: Use less plastic so that it doesn’t end up being eaten by turtles in the ocean.
- Donate: Your donation will help untangle more turtles from ghost gear and nurture injured turtles back to health.
- Reduce the Amount of Single-Use Plastic in Your Daily Routine: Collect all the plastic trash you use in a 24-hour period. Consider how much plastic trash your street produces in a day; the whole city; the nation. Think about how you and others can get through each day using less plastic and encourage others to reduce and recycle as well. Replace plastic items with more eco-friendly options. Start with something simple, such as switching plastic bags for reusable cloth bags and work your way towards leading a plastic-free life!
- Adopt-A-Turtle to Support Sea Turtle Conservation: Take a personal interest in one of the satellite-tagged turtles or a turtle flipper-tagged in Costa Rica. The donation directly supports sea turtle conservation programs.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you all have a good week! 😃 For now though, see you next week.