The 16th of June is World Sea Turtle Day and a day definitely worth celebrating! Sea turtles are amazing creatures. They are marine reptiles in the Order Testudines, and they have been around longer than all of us. The first records dating back to the Jurassic period.
There are seven living species: Green, Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Flatback and Leatherback. Six have the characteristic hard shell that we all recognise, but one, the leatherback, is different, with a layer of leathery skin over a mosaic of bony plates.
A day in the life of a sea turtle…
Sea turtles live in all oceans worldwide, except the polar regions. They spend most of their life at sea, with only the females returning to land to lay up to 100 eggs at a time. Most won’t survive to adulthood though, although those that do can live to over 100.
Most of their day is spent hunting for food. For Leatherbacks, that means searching for jellyfish, but for others, it varies. Adult green turtles like seagrass and algae, while the other species are omnivorous. They feed on a whole range of food from seagrasses and algae to sponges, molluscs, fish and worms.
Why we need World Sea Turtle Day
Sea turtles are under threat and need our help. One of the biggest problems is rubbish. Sea turtles can get tangled in floating debris or may mistake a floating plastic bag for a jellyfish and eat it for dinner. Litter can also stop baby turtles from reaching the sea. Other threats include poaching, global warming and coastal development.
World Sea Turtle Day is the perfect time to spread the word about sea turtles and their conservation; the more people that know, the better!
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Blog by OneKind Planet volunteer writer, Rachel Fegan