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WHAT IS THE SEA TURTLE?


Sea turtles live in tropical and subtropical oceans through most of the world. They come in many sizes and species including the giant leatherback which can weigh 1300 pounds. They do not have teeth, instead they have beaks. Their sense of smell is excellent and their vision underwater is good but outside of the water they are nearsighted.



Their bodies are also made for living in the ocean exclusively which is why they have problems coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. When their incubation period is up the eggs hatch and the hatchlings crawl quickly to the ocean, hoping to avoid gulls and other predators from eating them. The sea turtle is an illusive creature because it tends to spend so much of its time in the deep ocean. Many female sea turtles have been fitted with locators on their backs to help track them through the oceans.














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Only the females return to shore, so male turtles are hard to study in the wild. The female turtle returns to the beach where it was born and delivers her eggs. She can lay eggs up to 10 times in a single mating season. From her thousands of eggs if one turtle survives to adulthood she will be very lucky. Baby turtles take between 15 and 50 years to reach reproductive maturity and some species can live over 100 years. The earliest known sea turtle fossils are about 150 million years old. In groups too numerous to count, they once navigated throughout the world's oceans. But in just the past 100 years, demand for turtle meat, eggs, skin and colorful shells has dwindled their populations. Destruction of feeding and nesting habitats and pollution of the world’s oceans are all taking a serious toll on remaining sea turtle populations. Many breeding populations have already become extinct, and entire species are being wiped out.

 

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