Fun Facts about Turtles

In the aquatic world, only dolphins and whales match sea turtles for the joy they bring swimmers. But how much do you know about them? Check out our list of turtle facts and and information. Learn how many species there are, where they live, what they eat and their amazing breeding behaviors. You’ll appreciate even more when you see them on your next snorkel.

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Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Ancient Travelers

Sea turtles are among the oldest creatures on Earth, having been around for more than 100 million years. They coexisted with dinosaurs and survived the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Types of Sea Turtles

There are over 350 species of turtles but there are only 7 species of marine or sea turtles.

The most common sea turtle species is the Olive Ridley turtles. The other sea turtle species are the green turtle, loggerhead turtle, flatback turtle, hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle and Kemp’s Ridley Turtle.

Rarest Sea Turtle

The rarest and most endangered sea turtle is the Kemp’s Ridley turtle, estimates predict there are fewer than 10,000 nesting females left. They are followed by the Hawksbill turtle. There are approximately 20,000 nesting females left and half of them nest in Australia.

Turtle Hot Spots

Both Australia and America are home to 6 of the 7 sea turtle species. Kemp’s Ridley turtle is not in Australian waters and America misses out on the Flatback turtle. See where you can swim with turtles in Australia.

Global Distribution

Sea turtles inhabit various oceans and seas, with some species having widespread distribution while others are more localized. They can be found in both warm and cold waters.

Green Turtle Laying
Green Turtle Laying

Biggest Sea Turtle

The largest sea turtle is the leatherback turtle. It can grow to be over 2 metres long and weigh nearly 900kg. The next biggest sea turtle is the green turtle, but it is only half the length and weight of the giant leatherbacks.

Different Types of Shells

As well as being the biggest sea turtles, Leatherbacks also have a unique shell. Unlike other sea turtles that have a hard shell, leatherbacks have a soft, leathery skin which allows them to be the deepest diving sea turtle.

Most Widespread Turtle

One more record for the leatherback turtle is that it is also the most distributed. It can be found in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and can tolerate both warm and cool water.

Amazing Navigators

Sea turtles possess an impressive ability to navigate across vast distances in the ocean. They use Earth’s magnetic field and are thought to use celestial cues for navigation during long migrations.

YouTube video

What do Sea Turtles Eat?

It depends on the sea turtle. Some are herbivores (green turtle), some are carnivores (Kemp’s loggerhead and flatback) and some are omnivores (Olive Ridley)

Hawksbill turtles have a unique feeding habit—they feed on sponges, which are toxic to many other animals. This diet is thought to contribute to the hawksbill’s vibrant coloration.

Leatherbacks live only on squishy things like jellyfish and sea squirts

Why are Green Turtles Green?

Green sea turtles are primarily herbivores, feeding on seagrasses and algae. This diet gives their flesh a greenish tint, leading to their name.

How Long do Sea Turtles Live?

Sea turtles can live for several decades. Some estimates suggest that they can live up to 80 years or more, depending on the species and environmental factors.

Underwater Sleep

Sea turtles can sleep underwater and hold their breath for several hours, depending on the species. Some turtles have been observed sleeping while anchored to the sea floor.


While sea turtles are not known for extensive vocalizations, they do produce various sounds. These can include grunts, hisses, and even complex low-frequency sounds during courtship.

Efficient Swimmers

Sea turtles have streamlined bodies and powerful flippers. While they usually cruise around at 2 – 8kph, they can swim at up to 35kph to evade predators. Green Turtles can hold their breath underwater for up to five hours.

Green Turtles Hatching

Egg Layers

Even through sea turtles sped most of their life in the water, they lay their eggs on land. Remarkably, sea turtles will return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs.

The consistency of where they lay their eggs means greater efforts can be made to protect those areas. It also provides eco-tourism opportunities where people can be educated about the challenges sea turtles face.

Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination

The temperature at which sea turtle eggs are incubated determines the sex of the hatchlings. Warmer temperatures typically result in female turtles, while cooler temperatures lead to males. With global water temperatures rising, there is concern for the number of male turtles being born.

How Many Eggs do Sea Turtles Lay?

In one breeding season, turtles lay several times and each time they can produce 60 – 150 eggs. A group of eggs is called a clutch. Only 1 in 1,000 Turtles will make it to adulthood.

Egg Vulnerability

Sea turtle nests and eggs are highly vulnerable to predation by various animals, including crabs, birds, and mammals. This vulnerability is one reason why the survival rate of sea turtle hatchlings is low.

Steve Klein
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