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Exploring Ocean Life: Sea Turtles

Exploring Ocean Life

Everyone is home, and it will be a while before and your children can visit the wonders of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Hall of Fishes marine museum in person. Meanwhile, they can have some fun while learning about the natural world.

Here are some surprising facts and details about Sea Turtles –where they live, what they eat and their special skills. Plus two drawings you can copy and print for your children to color. This is the first in a series of online offerings from Vanderbilt educators.

Other projects in the Exploring Ocean Life series:

Whale Sharks

Hammerhead Sharks

More will be posted soon. Have fun!

SEA TURTLES

WHERE DO WE LIVE? 

Sea turtles live in oceans all over the world.

HOW MANY DIFFERENT SPECIES OF SEA TURTLE ARE THERE?

There are 7 species of sea turtles:

Kemp’s Ridley

Olive Ridley

Hawksbill

Australian Flat Back

Loggerhead

Green Sea Turtle

Leatherback (The largest sea turtle and the only one without a hard shell)

WHAT DO WE LIKE TO EAT? 

We like to eat seaweed, jellyfish, squid, barnacles, sponges, sea anemones, sand dollars, shrimp crabs, and corals.

AM I A…. MAMMAL, FISH, REPTILE, BIRD, OR AMPHIBIAN?

Sea turtles are marine reptiles. Out of approximately 12,000 different reptile species, only about 100 are marine reptiles. Some other marine reptiles are sea snakes, marine iguanas, and saltwater crocodiles.

Reptiles are cold blooded. They rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature.

WHO ARE MY ENEMIES?

Sharks and killer whales like to eat sea turtles as do seals and crocodiles.

Other problems for me are connected to human activities such as coastal development, ocean pollution, and particularly being caught in fishing nets.

DO I HAVE ANY UNUSUAL BODY PARTS?

Most notable to the sea turtle is its shell. The top of the shell is called the carapace, and the bottom of the shell is called the plastron.

The shell protects the sea turtle and it is its home. Sometimes other small organisms make their home in or on their shell as well: barnacles, algae, and small crabs

Sea turtles also have long flippers instead of webbed feet. Their smaller back flippers act as rudders to help sea turtles steer.

SPECIAL ADAPTATION

To get rid of excess salt they take in from their saltwater environment, they have large glands near their eyes that release salt in high concentrations. This is why they sometimes look like they are crying.

HOW MANY TEETH DO SEA TURTLES HAVE?

Zero. Sea turtles have no teeth. They bite and tear their food with strong jaws and then swallow their food whole.

DID YOU KNOW? …

Sea turtles date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Male sea turtles never leave the ocean, but females leave the ocean at night and crawl onto beaches to dig a nesting hole and in roughly an hour lay 65-180 eggs that look like small white balls. These are called a CLUTCH (a group of eggs).

Warmer nests produce female sea turtles and cooler nests produce male sea turtles.

Sea turtles cannot breathe underwater, but they can hold their breaths for long periods of time (between 4-7 hours when resting). During this time, their heart rate slows to conserve oxygen.

Leatherback sea turtles are adapted for deep diving. They have a flexible shell and collapsible lungs that allow them to compress themselves while diving to cope with the pressure change.

Sea turtles have a long lifespan. Some can live to be more than 100 years old.

Sea turtles are an endangered, threatened, and protected species.

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