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Species of Sea Turtles and World Sea Turtle Day

World Sea Turtle Day | Sea Turtle Characteristics | Conservation | Species | History

World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated annually on 16 June. Sea Turtles are also called Marine Turtles. This day highlights the importance of Sea Turtles. It also raises awareness about the Sea turtle Conservation and Species of Sea Turtles. Moreover, it highlights the Marine Reptiles’ role for the health of Marine ecosystem. The Sea Turtle Characteristics vary with species. These turtles are Poikilotherms.

World Sea Turtle Day provides an opportunity to educate people about sea turtle habitat protection.

World Turtle Day 

History of World Sea Turtle Day

Sea Turtle conservation organizations established World Sea Turtle Day in 2000. The world observes World Sea Turtle Day in honor of Dr. Archie Carr. This day coincides with the Birthday of Dr Archie Carr. Archie Carr is known as the father of sea turtle biology. Moreover, he was a famous sea turtle conservationist and marine biologist. In addition, his research brought attention to the threatening condition of the Sea Turtle population. He was the founder of Sea Turtle Conservancy’s. The Sea Turtle Conservancy formerly known as Caribbean Conservation Corporation.

Sea Turtle Characteristics and Species of Sea Turtles

The Sea turtle species include Green Turtles, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback Turtles, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, and Flatback. Sea Turtle Characteristics vary with species.

Marine Turtles are large air-breathing reptiles. They have lungs. So, they break the surface to breathe. They belong to the families Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae.  Turtles belonging to the family Dermochelyidae are leatherback Sea turtles. In the family Cheloniidae, turtles include green turtles, flatback sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, hawksbills, and ridleys. However, both families are highly aquatic. They can also be categorized as leathery-shelled and hard-shelled.

Species of Sea Turtles and World Sea Turtle Day

Besides other Sea Turtle Characteristics, their size varies among species of sea turtles. But, Both male and female Marine Turtles are equal in size.  Leatherback sea turtles are the largest marine turtles. While Kemp’s ridley turtles are the smallest sea turtles. Their color ranges from olive-green, yellow, greenish-brown to reddish-brown or black.

The green sea turtles get their name from the color of their body fat, not due to their shell color. This fat color is due to the diet of Seagrasses and algae.

They have non-retractile head. Moreover, they have large upper eyelids that protect their eyes. Besides this, they do not have teeth and external ear openings as well. Besides this, each sea turtle species has a jaw shape adapted to its diet. They can be herbivorous, omnivorous, and carnivorous.

Shell and Flippers of Sea Turtles

Sea turtle characteristics related to shells also vary among the species of sea turtles. Marine Turtles have large, bony, and streamlined shells. Their shell provides them protection from predators. The upper or dorsal part of the shell is called the carapace. While bottom or ventral part of the shell is called the plastron.  Their shell is covered with a layer of horny plates called scutes in all species except the leatherback. Thus, species of Sea turtles can be identified by the number of scutes. The carapace ranges in shape from oval to heart-shaped. On the other hand, the leatherback turtles have thick and rubbery oil-suffused skin. This skin acts as an excellent insulator.

Interesting Facts about Turtle Shell 

Marine turtles have modified limbs in the form of flippers. These flippers help them in swimming. Marine Turtles can not retract their limbs under shell, unlike other turtles. Their front forelimbs are long and paddle-like. They propel their bodies through the water. So, they figure eight swimming strokes. They have fully webbed hind flippers as rudders. The hind flippers stabilize and provide direction to the turtle as it swim.

Sea Turtles Habitat and Distribution

Marine Turtles are found in all oceans except polar regions. Generally, they are found in tropical and subtropical waters. They inhabit various types of marine environments, depending on their life stages and species.

Green sea turtle habitat is bays and protected shores. While their distribution is among the West Coast of North and South America.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle prefer bays, coastal streams, creeks and sometimes open ocean. They are found worldwide in temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

Leatherback Sea Turtles have the widest distribution than other sea turtle species. They are distributed in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. This species can be found in colder waters farther north and south than any other reptile. They are highly oceanic. They approach coastal waters only during the breeding season.

Whereas, Flatback Sea Turtles are completely coastal. They are Endemic to the continental shelf of Australia, particularly in the northern and eastern regions.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are found in shallow areas with sandy or muddy bottoms rich in crustaceans. Primarily, they are found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles are mostly found in coastal areas. They are found in tropical regions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles are found throughout the central Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions. They are the most tropical of all Marine Turtles.

Special Report on Threats to Marine Turtles 

Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea turtle Conservation is important to maintain the health of marine ecosystems. Green sea turtles graze on seagrasses which helps the grass to grow healthier. Unfortunately, most species of Marine Turtles are listed as endangered or threatened. Major threats they face include habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and illegal trade. Mostly, threats are caused by humans. Moreover, CITES protects marine turtles by regulating the international trade of turtles and their products. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Sea Turtle Conservancy is also working on marine turtles and their conservation.

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