Top 10 sea turtle facts

Get to know these graceful ocean reptiles

 

1. Based on fossils records, the first turtles appear to have evolved about 220 million years ago when dinosaurs were still around.

2. The turtle’s shell is almost always hard and bony, having evolved as its ancestors’ ribs widened and fused.

3. The top part of a turtle’s shell is called the carapace, while the underside is known as the plastron.

4. Turtles spend most of their lives at sea. Females head to the beaches every couple of years to lay eggs, but males hardly ever leave the water.

5. The leatherback is the largest sea turtle, weighing up to 700 kilograms (1,540 pounds).

6. Unlike the other sea turtles, the leatherback doesn’t have a bony carapace. Instead, its back is covered with thick, oily skin.

7. To help them swim easily through the sea, turtles’ front limbs are flattened to form powerful flippers.

8. Most feeding dives last only a few minutes, but green sea turtles can stay underwater for up to five hours.

9. To cope with life in seawater, turtles have glands that remove excess salt from their bodies. It’s excreted through their tear ducts, making it look like they’re crying.

10. Temperature affects the sex of a turtle’s offspring. Ideal conditions result in an equal number of females and males, but warmer temperatures produce more females.

 

Image: Green turtle – Laszlo Ilyes/flickr