Sea Turtle – 2 species


  • Green turtle
  • Hawksbill Turtle

Sea turtle, also called marine turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. These reptiles inhabit the seas for approximately 110 million years, since the age of dinosaurs.

After mating at sea, females return to the same beach at which they were born. They come to the shore at night, dig a hole with their back flippers and bury between 70 and 190 eggs depending on the species. Temperatures of the sand where the turtles nest determine the sex of the brood. Below 30°C lead to more males, above to 30°C to more females. When the young hatch out of their eggs, they make their way to the ocean. Males will never come back to the shores again, few survive to adulthood.

The habitat of sea turtles, the ocean, influences directly their morphology. They are able to grow much bigger than land turtles because they live in immense areas, traveling far distances. More room enables more growth.

Two species of sea turtles have been recorded around Phuket. You can find them by diving at Koh Phi Phi or the Similan Islands.

Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle moving along the ground

Hawksbill turtle moving along the ground

Adult hawksbill sea turtles are 1 m (3 ft) in length and weight around 80 kg (180 lb) in average. Their carapace has an amber background patterned with dark and light streaks. Their heads are elongated and end with a sharper beak than other sea turtle species.

They are commonly found in coral reefs, but they can inhabit many other different types of habitats like open ocean, lagoons and even mangrove swamps in estuaries. Hawksbills reach maturity after 30 years. They are believed to live from 30 to 50 years in the wild. Their carapaces are tough, thus the only predators for adults are sharks and octopuses. Hawkbill sea turtles are omnivorous and their diet is composed of algaes, cnidarians, jellyfish and sea anemones.

Their lives are divided into three phases. The pelagic phase: from their hatching until they reach 20 cm. The benthic phase: when the immature turtles find ideals spots to forage for food. And finally the reproductive phase, when the turtles reach maturity and are able to mate and breed.

Green Turtle

Green Turtle swimming close to the surface

Green turtle swimming close to the surface

The green sea turtle has a wide flattened body with a smooth carapace. Adult generally grow to 1.5 meters (5 ft) long and weight between 68 and 190 kg. Exceptional specimens can weight 315 kg (694 lb). The carapace has various color patterns that change over time. Hatchlings have mostly black carapaces, juveniles’ shells turn dark brown to olive and adults’ shells can be entirely brown, marbled or just spotted. Their names do not therefore refer to the color of their carapace but to the greenish tint of their skin.

The green sea turtle has a wide flattened body with a smooth carapace. Adult generally grow to 1.5 meters (5 ft) long and weight between 68 and 190 kg. Exceptional specimens can weight 315 kg (694 lb). The carapace has various color patterns that change over time. Hatchlings have mostly black carapaces, juveniles’ shells turn dark brown to olive and adults’ shells can be entirely brown, marbled or just spotted. Their names do not therefore refer to the color of their carapace but to the greenish tint of their skin.

During the benthic juvenile phase, this turtle is mostly carnivorous, consuming small invertebrates and fish eggs. However, matures specimens are mostly herbivorous and inhabit shallow lagoons, eating essentially various species of marine plants such as kelp and algae.

Only 1% of the hatchlings actually survive until they reach sexual maturity after 20 to 50 years of living. Wild specimens can potentially live 80 years.

 


 

If you want to meet these astonishing animals, you can book your daily trip with SSS Phuket. This is the kind of experience you will never forget !

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