The purpose of World Sea Turtle Day is to educate people about the things that they can do to protect the habitats of turtle. Turtles are endangered species and are listed by the IUCN Red List as either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. They are: leatherbacks (vulnerable), loggerheads (vulnerable), hawksbills (critically endangered), green sea turtles (endangered), Kemp’s Ridley (critically endangered), Olive Ridley (vulnerable), and flatback sea turtles (data deficient).
Here are some amazing facts about turtles that you may not be aware of:
- Turtles don’t have teeth. Instead, their upper and lower jaws have sheaths made of keratin that fit onto the skull like a pair of false teeth.
- Turtle shells are made of over 50 bones fused together - so they're literally wearing their bones on the outside.
- Marine turtle species vary greatly in size. The smallest, Kemp’s ridley, are around 70 cm long and up to 40 kg in weight whilst the leather back can reach up to 180 cm and 500 kg in weight.
- It’s estimated that as few as 1 in 1,000 marine turtle eggs will survive to adulthood, and if beaches are strewn with litter, it can prevent hatchlings reaching the sea.
- Marine turtles can migrate long distances – a female leatherback swam nearly 13,000 miles over 647 days from Indonesia to the west coast of America!
- Female marine turtles return to the same beach they hatched on to nest. Marine turtles’ amazing ability to navigate comes from their sensitivity to the Earth's magnetic fields.
There are so many things about these amazing creatures that are still unknown and we will only be able to learn more about them, if we protect their habitat and the marine environment. Every year 8 millions tonnes of plastic dumped in our oceans results in one in every two-sea turtle ingesting plastic, often mistaken for food. Keeping our beaches clean helps to prevent turtles from ingesting plastics, it also prevents them from getting entangled in bags and other trash and suffocating.