Different Kinds of Sea Turtles
1. In the first passage, you learned that sea turtles are endangered and why they need our protection. In this passage, you will learn about the seven different types of sea turtles and see how they are similar and different.
Leatherback Sea Turtles
2. The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all sea turtles, and it is one of the largest reptiles on Earth. This turtle varies in size from 4-8 feet in length and weighs between 500-2,000 pounds. It is also the oldest of all sea turtle species, and it has been around for more than 150 million years. This turtle lived when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
3. Leatherback turtles can eat twice their own body weight in food per day. They eat soft-bodied invertebrates like jellyfish. They live throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. They are mainly open ocean swimmers. However, they swim to tropical and subtropical coastal regions to mate and nest.
Green Sea Turtles
4. The green sea turtle is the second largest sea turtle after the leatherback. They can weigh up to 500 pounds and grow to 4 feet in length. They eat sea grasses, seaweeds, algae and other forms of marine plant life. Their beak is sharp and is used for eating seagrass beds and scraping algae off hard surfaces.
5. These turtles are located worldwide and nest in more than 80 countries. Some green sea turtles live and nest in Costa Rica, Oman, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Australia.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
6. Loggerhead sea turtles are one of the larger species of sea turtles. The loggerhead turtle ranges from 200-400 pounds and up to 4 feet in length. Loggerheads are found in every ocean around the world. Most loggerhead turtles live in the warm tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans.
7. These turtles are named for their large head and strong crushing jaw, which allows them to eat hard-shelled prey such as crabs. Loggerheads carry many organisms on their shells like barnacles and crabs. In fact, scientists have identified between 50-100 species of plant and animals hitching a ride on the backs of loggerhead turtles.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles
8. Many people think that Hawksbill sea turtles are the most beautiful of sea turtles because of their colorful shells. The hawksbill is found in tropical waters around the world. They spend their time in coral reefs, rocky areas, lagoons, mangroves, oceanic islands, and shallow coastal areas.
9. These turtles are named for their narrow head and sharp, bird-like beak. Hawksbills can reach into cracks and crevices of coral reefs looking for food. They eat mainly sponges. Hawksbill sea turtles weigh between 100-200 pounds and grow to 2-3 feet in length.
10. These turtles live in the tropical and some sub-tropical regions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The largest populations live in the Caribbean Sea, Indonesia, Mexico, and Australia. Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
11. Olive Ridley sea turtles are the second smallest sea turtle. They weigh between 75-100 pounds and grow to 2-2 ½ feet in length. They are named for their olive green shell. These turtles are omnivores (meat eaters). They eat a variety of food including crabs, shrimp, lobster, urchins, jellies, and fish.
12. Olive Ridley sea turtles live all over the world, and they are found mainly in warm tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian, and Southern Atlantic Oceans. They spend most of their life in the open ocean.
13. These turtles live and build nests in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia, parts of Africa, and a few beaches along the coast of India.
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles
14. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the smallest of the seven sea turtle species. They weigh between 75-100 pounds grow to about 2 feet in length. They have a triangular shaped heads with hooked beaks and strong jaws. Their favorite prey is crabs. They also eat fish, jellies, shrimp, and a variety of mollusks.
15. About 95 percent of these turtles live and nest in Mexico, but around 5 percent also live in Texas. Until recently, the endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtle almost became extinct in the 1960s. Over the years, strict protection laws protected their nesting beaches in Mexico. These turtles went from only 200 turtles in the 1980s, to about 7,000 - 9,000 turtles today.
Flatback Sea Turtles
16. The flatback sea turtle gets its name from its flat shell, which is different from other sea turtles. An adult flatback weighs 200 pounds and grows to 3 feet in length. The flatback is an omnivore (meat and plant eaters). They eat a variety of food including sea cucumbers, jellies, soft corals, shrimp, crabs, mollusks, fish, and seaweed.
17. They swim in the waters of Northern Australia, Southern Indonesia, and Southern Papua New Guinea. However, they breed and nest only in Australia. Because they live in so few parts of the world, flatback turtles are the least studied of the sea turtle species.