9 Surprising Facts About Sea Turtles

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Jun 15, 2016, but is being republished today as a Care2 favorite. Enjoy!

June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day, and while we all know they’re pretty, that the younglings rush to the water after they hatch, and that they often become victims of plastic waste, there’s so much more to these guys! Their age, anatomy and physical abilities are astonishing and undeniably justify giving these guys their own special day.


1. They think jellyfish are delicious

Leatherbacks and hawkbill turtles feed on jellyfish and keep their populations in check. Plastic looks like jellyfish when it’s floating in the water and that’s why so many turtles die from ingesting plastic — they were going for a tasty snack.

2. Theyre the oceans lawnmowers

Green sea turtles have a more plant-based diet and eat seagrass. By keeping seagrass short, they prevent it from getting tall and harming other marine creatures.

3. They cannot retract into their shell like other turtles

Since they don’t have to protect themselves from predators for most of their life on water, sea turtles cannot retract their flippers and head into their shells. Their anatomy makes them more agile when under the sea but highly vulnerable when nesting and hatching.

A sea turtle in clear blue maui waters.

4. Temperature dictates the sex of baby turtles

Warmer nests lead to more females and cooler ones lead to more males — which is why climate change could drastically affect their populations by creating too many females and too few males to match them for reproduction.

5. Theyve been around for a very, very long time

An estimated 110 million years is how long sea turtles have existed on Earth, which means they once shared the planet with T-Rex and other dinosaurs.

6. They can hold their breath for five hours underwater

To accomplish this mighty feat they slow their heart rate to up to nine minutes in between heart beats in order to conserve oxygen.


7. They live to about 100 years

And that’s also roughly the amount of eggs they lay every time they nest.

8. Dogs are not a sea turtles best friend

Even though they’re marine animals, some of their natural predators include dogs who dig up their eggs buried in the sand.

9. They have an excellent sense of direction

 Sea turtles can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and they use it as a compass.

All Photos: ThinkStock.


Daniel N
Daniel Nabout a month ago

thank you for sharing

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Laurel Coughlin
Laurel Coughlin6 months ago

I sure wish there was a print option I would love to mail this to my 9year old grandson. He is into learning all these animal facts.

Lesa D
Past Member 6 months ago

Duuuuude!!! awesome article!!!

thank you Natalia...

hELEN h6 months ago


Richard B
Past Member 8 months ago

thanks for sharing

Jessica K
Jessica K8 months ago

Saw one today at the beach. Really neat to see. Thanks.

Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx8 months ago

@ Marilyn D : I do not think that major part of the eggs is stolen by OUR domestic dogs. In many good documentaries, I have seen that wild dogs, foxes, etc... are really searching along the beaches to find a nest with eggs. And as their noses are very well working, they find regularly a nest with eggs. And they don't loose too many time. They crush and eat the eggs on the spot, as otherwise competitors and also birds come to fight for their share of this protein rich food ...
Effectively, the temperature of the sand in which these eggs are laid is making a big difference. I always forget how it is, but 38 degr. Celsius, is the turning point. If the sand around the eggs is above 38 ° C. you have all females, and below 38 ° C. it are all males (or vice versa - will have to find a trick to remember this) This is also the case with crocodiles. So when global warming effectively raises with 3 or 4 or even 5 ° C., it will give a very bad outturn for the gender of the born animals. Volunteers are now already moving nests to higher places, as the seawater is coming higher each year, but in the future, they will have to move the eggs to colder places, under a bush or tree, or build some kind of protecting shield, so they have not so much sunshine any longer each day !!

Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx8 months ago

Good this article was re-published, as I can not remember that I have seen it before. I knew quite some things about the sea turtles, because I see 1 or 2 films a year, and follow just 1 serie on my national television station, and for the rest I wacht Animal Planet, Discovery Planet, and all the other channels, incl. the BBC in the U.K. who also regularly send many documentaries on the lives of so many endangered species still sharing this planet with us. However, we are greedy, heartless creatures when it comes to saving the most vulnerable species. And we rather see a funny film, who has nothing to tell us, than using a bit of our spare time to see how our friends, the animals are suffering on this planet. Many places are no longer their home, as we took large chunks of their territories, we cut the trees and bushes of which they need the leaves and the fruits. And for a lot of them, the future is NOT BRIGHT AT ALL !!
Knowing what is happening around us, and learning about how many animals are near to extinction would probably urge us to take more care of what we do, and how we are destroying our and their habitat and slowly but certainly, we would pay more attention to what we ourselves and our governments play behing our backs just for the GREED and lack of COMPASSION we now have towards all our friends, the animals. We CAN NOT live without them. But a major part of the population still do not understand that !!

Leo C
Leo C8 months ago

Thank you for sharing!