June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day, and to honour our reptilian ocean dwellers, here are ten fast facts about them!
- There are seven species of sea turtle on the world—Leatherback, Loggerhead, Flatback, Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, and Olive ridley. The largest, Leatherback turtles, can weigh up to 2,000 lbs.!
- Six out of the seven species of sea turtle are at risk—either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered—with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Turtles help maintain the health of our ocean life. Whether they are playing the role of underwater lawnmower by eating sea grass or keeping jellyfish and sponge populations down, our turtles play a vital role to support healthy aquatic environments.
- Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their limbs into their shell. This makes them better swimmers, but also more susceptible to predators.
- When resting, sea turtles can slow their heart rate down to just one beat every nine minutes.
- Nest temperature dictates the sex of turtle hatchlings. Cooler nest temperatures generally result in male turtles, while warmer nest temperatures lead to females.
- It is estimated that only one out of every thousand sea turtle eggs will make it to adulthood.
- Sea turtles have special glands near their eyes that help them excrete excess salt.
- Sea turtles have been on earth a turtle-y long time—over 100 million years!
- Sadly, one out of every two sea turtles have ingested plastic.
Sea turtles are remarkable animals, but without our help, they could soon be just a memory. Unsustainable fishing practices, the continuous stream of plastic pollution, poaching, and habitat degradation are just a handful of the strains on our turtle populations. You at home can help by refusing single-use plastic, choosing sustainably sourced seafood, and further educating yourself on sea turtle issues worldwide.
Happy World Sea Turtle Day from Chewy and Spot at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada!