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10 Interesting facts about Sea Turtles you didn’t know

by Sangam Adhikari

Sea turtles are large, air-breathing reptiles that inhabit tropical and subtropical seas throughout the world. These creatures are well-adapted to the ocean though they require air to survive.

We have collected 10 Interesting facts about Sea Turtles that you might not hear of.

The largest marine turtle that has been discovered so far is Archelon. 

These giants of the turtle world weighed in about 2 tons and were about 4 meters long and 4.9 meters wide, it was shaped like the modern leatherback turtle since they both have a thin shell, these guys lived from around 80 million years ago to 66 million years ago and lived in the region of what’s now known as South Dakota and Wyoming

A sea turtle’s shell is part of its spine and is a sort of modified ribcage. 

You probably seen cartoons with turtles taking off their shells, this isn’t remotely possible, since turtles are very much attached to their shells, that would be like asking any vertebrate to take off their spine and ribs and keep on walking.

If a turtle’s shell is injured, the turtle would feel pain and the shell could even bleed since it has nerves and blood supply, the shells aren’t like your fingernails or hair it’s like your skin just a lot harder and tougher and it also consists of up to 50 different bones.

A sea turtle’s shell has two parts and its shell is shaped differently. 

Almost all sea turtles have two parts, these two parts are the upper section or otherwise known as the carapace and the lower section, or otherwise as to the plastron, which is joined by a bony bridge.

Sea turtles have a more fusiform (spindle or lemon-shaped) body compared to their freshwater and terrestrial counterparts, this makes it impossible for sea turtles to retract their heads, but it makes swimming easier and they have more ability to be swifter since there is less drag on the turtle.

Sea turtles are able to make sounds even though they lack vocal cords. 

That might sound unusual, but it’s somehow possible for these guys, what do you expect from a bunch of reptiles that have been using the same design for millions of years, the way these guys do it is by swallowing or forcing air out of their lungs, certain species make unique sounds like a nesting female leatherback turtle which makes a sound that resembles a human belching.

Even though sea turtles lack an ear-opening they can still hear noises. 

You might have seen a turtle and were looking for a hole in the side of their heads where the sound waves would enter, they don’t have any external ears, it’s just some flaps of skin that capture the sound waves, but they can still hear certain types of sounds.

They’re experts on hearing low frequencies, these frequencies help them to navigate around the world and they also use these as communication between each other, baby sea turtles use these low frequencies to attract adult sea turtles to help guide and protect the hatchlings.

Turtles don’t breathe with their diaphragm (primary muscle for breathing). 

The diaphragm is a muscle that contracts and relaxes with each breath to expand the ribs, turtles don’t have this muscle, since the rigidity of their shells would prevent their ribs, which are connected to them, from expanding.

Instead, turtles must move their limbs or neck, and utilize other muscles connected to the pleural cavity (the area around the lungs), to help them breathe.

Leatherbacks are a very lonely and unusual family of turtles. 

The reason they are considered lonely is that they are the only living members of the turtle family Dermochelyidae which had six other members, and the reason they are considered unusual is that since there are the only living sea turtles that don’t have a hard shell, these guys instead have thick, leathery skin with small osteoderms (these form scales, plates, an armadillo’s shell, etc.)

Their scales lack β-keratin or beta-keratin which is unusual among all reptiles since it helps their scales be more rigid and less likely to dry up easier, they’re also able to use endothermy which means they can control their body temperature.

The turtle family has been existing for around 120 million years. 

The oldest sea turtle fossil dates back 120 million years ago which belongs to a species called the Desmatochelys padillai, this oldie beat the previous holder by 10 million years and is made in Colombia, they lived in the Cretaceous period which was likely the first time when there were turtles that ventured from the land and freshwater and out to the sea

Sea turtles are in an almost constant fight for survival.

Baby sea turtles get out of their eggshells and slowly race across the sand towards the ocean, these babies have around a 1 in 1000 survival rate, Since they have to face predators like seagulls, dogs, raccoons, lizards, frigate birds, dingos, foxes, barracuda, and many more predators, they also may go the wrong way because of streetlights, cars, campfires or bright signs.

Six out of seven species of sea turtles are threatened by extinction. 

As tough as these ancient navigators are, they’re slowly dwindling from our oceans for many reasons, most of them point to humans, climate change, overfishing, hunting for their shells, entanglement on drum lines, garbage are just a few reasons why they’re diminishing.

In two centuries time, slaughter for their shell, meat and skin, improper trash disposal and eating too many of their eggs helped them go from barely any chance of going to be extinct to likely to die in a few years.

The one species that isn’t on the endangered list is called the loggerhead since they were less likely to be hunted for their shells but they still face the dangers of getting entangled in gear, garbage and drum lines.

Let’s hope and help them to survive in the oceans for another day.

Also, Check Deep-Sea Creatures: Dumbo Octopus (Fun facts about Dumbo Octopus)

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