The Existing 7 Sea Turtle Species in The World (Pictures)

There are about 7 species of sea turtles living in the oceans and other water bodies in the world. Some species of sea turtles are either endangered or threatened due to human activities. Learn about the identification and characteristics of the 7 sea turtle species; their diet, size, and lifespan.

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle

1. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Description: Different types of Green Sea Turtle appear in different shades of color. Although, this turtle gets its name from the green color of their cartilage and fat. The color varieties of the green sea turtle vary with their habitat.

The dark colors varieties are found in Hawaii, Central America, and the Galapagos oceans, the pale-yellow ones are found in the Central Pacific, while the amber-colored varieties are found in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

Population: The population of the green sea turtle is rapidly decreasing leaving about 200,000 different types of green turtles found across the oceans. the green sea turtle can be found in the seas across the sub-tropics and tropics worldwide, they nest in the tropical climates.

Size: The green sea turtle is the second largest sea turtle species in the world, with adults reaching over 5 feet long and weighing up to 700 pounds (318 Kg).

Diet: Being an herbivore, the adult green sea turtle eats seagrasses, seaweeds, algae, and other forms of marine fauna. The hatchlings and juveniles primarily eat fish eggs, small invertebrates found below the sea, floating algae, and seaweeds.

Lifespan: The green sea turtle reaches sexual maturity between 10 – 15 years and can live up to 50 years on average.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead Sea Turtle

2. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Description: The loggerhead sea turtle got its name from having a large or log-like head; It is characterized by its large head, strong jaws with large non-overlapping scales on their carapace. Adult turtles have a reddish-brown skin color; the neck and belly are yellowish-brown or pale.  

Population: The loggerhead turtle is the most popular sea turtles that nest in the United States; it is found throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. the current study reveals that the population of the loggerhead turtle is increasingly declining with an estimate of about 2 million loggerhead turtles in the oceans across the world.

Size: The loggerhead sea turtle can grow up to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (135kg).

Diet: Loggerheads are omnivorous, they eat mainly the bottom-dwelling invertebrates like crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms. Their powerful jaws help them feed on hard-shelled prey like whelks and conch. Loggerheads may also eat fish, jellyfish, seaweed, and algae.

Lifespan: Loggerhead sea turtles are estimated to live up to 67 years or more. They reach sexual maturity between 20-38 years.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Hawksbill Sea Turtle

3. Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Description: The Hawksbill Sea turtle is known for its beautiful amber-colored shell and elongated beak-like mouth. A thick overlapping plate covers the shell to form serrated edges around the shell.

Population: The population of the Hawksbill Sea turtle is affected by lots of human activities and climate change. An estimate of about 80,000 hawksbill sea turtles are found in oceans across the world.

Size: the Hawksbill Turtle is one of the smaller sea turtle species. Adults can grow up to 3 feet (1m) in length and weigh up to 200 pounds (90kg).

Diet: Hawksbills are omnivores, feeding on sponges, sea urchins, squid, jellyfish, and more. Their narrow heads allow them to reach into crevices of coral reefs to find food.

Lifespan: Hawksbills can live 80 years or more. They reach sexual maturity between 20-40 years old.

Leatherback Sea Turtle
Leatherback Sea Turtle

4. Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Description: The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living sea turtle species. It gets its name from its shell, which is mainly made up of tough, rubbery skin with no hard “scales” or bony plates like other sea turtles. leatherback turtle is the oldest of all sea turtle species, living more than 150 million years.

Population: The leatherback sea turtle was enlisted as endangered in the United States in 1970 with its population rapidly decreasing. There are currently about 40,000 leatherback sea turtles in the ocean across the globe. They are found throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Size: Leatherback turtles grow up to 4 to 8 feet long (1.2 – 2.4m) as adults and can weigh 500 to 2,000 pounds (225 – 900 kg))

Diet: These turtles feed almost exclusively on jellyfish and other soft-bodied invertebrates. An adult leatherback can consume over 100 pounds of jellyfish per day! Their favorite prey is the lion’s mane jellyfish. 

Lifespan: Leatherbacks can live up to 50 years or more. They reach sexual maturity at 12 – 15 years.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

5. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Description: The olive ridley sea turtle is the smallest sea turtle species after the Kemp’s ridley turtle. These small turtles got their name from their pale green or olive-colored carapace. olive ridley turtle has a flat and slightly convex-shaped back. It possesses a sharp beak for hunting pelagic prey.

Population: The Olive ridleys are among the most abundant sea turtles with an estimated 800,000 nesting females found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Diet: Olive ridleys are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of marine life including shrimp, crabs, snails, jellyfish, algae, and fish. Hatchlings start out eating small organisms like shrimp, crabs, and mollusks. As adults, their diet shifts more towards jellyfish, tunicates, and algae.

Size: The olive ridley turtles weigh up to 66 – 100 pounds (30 – 45kg) and can grow up to 2 – 2.5 feet as an adult.

Lifespan: Olive ridleys turtles reach sexual maturity around the age of 15 years and can typically live up to 50 years.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

6. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)

Description: Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest sea turtle species found in the different oceans across the globe. It has a round, grayish-black carapace (shell). Their plastron (underside) is yellowish-white. Kemp’s ridleys prefer shallow, warm ocean waters and are skilled swimmers with forelimbs modified into flippers.

Population: The Kemp’s ridley is the most endangered of all sea turtle species, with an increasing population of about 25,000 in oceans across the globe. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Size: Being the smallest sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley turtles can grow up to 2 feet (.6 m) in length and a weight range between 75-100 pounds (35 – 45 kg)

Diet: Their diet consists primarily of crab, but they also eat mollusks, fish, jellyfish, and plant material. Hatchlings start out eating sargassum and other floating seaweed.

Lifespan: Kemp’s ridleys reach sexual maturity as early as 8-10 years old and have an average lifespan of around 40 years.

Flatback Sea Turtle

7. Flatback Sea Turtle (Natator depressus)

Description: The flatback turtle is a species of sea turtle found solely around the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of Indonesia. It got its name from its flat-shaped carapace that is olive to light grey. The Flatback turtles have round brittle shells with non-overlapping scales. Unlike other sea turtle species, the female flatback turtles are bigger and longer than the males.

Population: Flatbacks have the smallest geographic range of all sea turtle species. Currently, there are about 69,000 flatback turtles in the northern coastal area of Australia and the Gulf of Papua, New Guinea.

Size: The flatback is one of the smallest sea turtle species, with an average length of about 3 feet (1m) and weight of 150-200 pounds (70-90 kg).

Diet: The flatback turtle is an omnivore; their diet consists primarily of sea cucumbers, soft corals, shrimp, jellyfish, mollusks, and fish.

Lifespan: Flatback turtles have an average lifespan of 50-70 years. It takes 15 years for flatback turtles to reach sexual maturity

Facts about Sea Turtles

  • The largest turtle is the leatherback sea turtle; it weighs over 900 kg.
  • Sea turtles have an excellent sense of direction.
  • Jellyfish are the most preferred prey of sea turtles.
  • Loggerhead sea turtles have big heads and cannot retract into their shells.
  • Leatherback sea turtles have soft shells; they swim straight, not in circles.
  • Sea turtles can hold their breath for five hours underwater.
  • Sea turtles have special glands to get the salt out of the water they drink in the ocean.
  • Turtles have two shell layers, this upper shell is called the carapace, while the lower shell is called a ‘plastron’.
  • Turtles don’t have ears. Thin flaps of skin that cover internal ear bones receive vibrations and low-frequency sounds.
  • The inside of a turtle’s mouth is filled with thorns facing backward.
  • When a sea turtle eats, its stomach is filled with food and water. As the turtle spits out the water, the thorns trap the food, allowing only the water to escape.
  • Temperature determines the gender of the turtle eggs. When the temperature is Lower, a male turtle is hatched and when the temperature is higher, the egg hatches to a female turtle

End Notes,

Here are the existing species of sea turtles; these fascinating creatures are found in every ocean in the world. Sea turtles contribute to the ecosystem of the ocean through nutrient recycling and controlling the growth of seagrass beds.

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