Monday, November 12

Hurtle Turtle Outta Here (Turtle Facts)

Recently I was fortunate enough to be at the beach as a bunch of baby turtles headed out to the big wide ocean for their first swim.

It was all kinds of awesome.

Part of watching it meant that I also got to listen to a rather interesting talk about turtles, which brings me to today's post.

Did you know...

Darwin is the only capital city in the world that has flat back turtles that nest on it's beaches

Turtles return to the beach that they were born on to procreate. Only 1 in 2000 turtles live to actually do this though.

When they reach maturity, somewhere between the ages of 20-40 years depending on the species, they may travel up to 3000 km to reach said beach.

Turtles are all about family and helping out. They form a ladder in the nest and help each other climb out. They then wait for everyone to get out before heading to the sea. It can take 2-3 days between hatching and actually climbing out of the nest.

The preferred time to head to towards the sea is a night on a high tide. There are less predators at night and the high tide means less to walk.

When the female is ready to lay her eggs she also prefers night and high tide. For much the same reasons as her offspring choose to leave at that time.

Essentially mating season is just one big turtle sex party with all parties trying to get it on as much as possible. The males hang around for about a month and get as much action as they can. The females stay for up around three months and in that time they will lay up to five clutches of eggs in that time. The sperm gained from the sex party seems to just hang around inside the female and fertilizes the eggs for each clutch. 

It is possible to know the species of turtle purely by looking at the mother's tracks and the eggs laid. Flat back turtles have larger eggs and lay between 30-70. Green turtles have smaller eggs and lay up to 100 eggs at a time. While other species have even smaller eggs again and may lay between 150-200 in a season.

The temperature of the sand can determine the sex of the eggs. The hotter the sand the more females are likely, however the sex can only be determined by dissection.

Before leaving the nest the turtles eat the last of the embryo from the egg they were just in. This will sustain them for the next 3-4 days while they swim out to find the oceanic current that will drift them to there new home.

Turtles can drift in oceanic currents for 10 years till they find a place to call home.

Death by plastic bags are not uncommon for turtles. DO NOT leave plastics laying around or near water ways.