Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered with seven species considered critically endangered. Each is unique and important in its own way. The disturbing part is that they are killed for their meat, eggs, shells or are dying from ingesting plastics in the ocean, mistaking these for jellyfish which Sea Turtles live on, or can die from ‘boatstrikes’ whereby drivers may not even know they’ve killed or maimed a Sea Turtle.
The following discusses the top endangered turtles in the world.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead sea turtles are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean and Indian oceans. They nest on our South Carolina Beaches. Weighing up to 350 pounds, they have a very large head, 3.5 feet long and weigh up to 400 pounds. Their shell is dark brown in color and their body is a reddish brown color.
They are omnivores and often eat crabs, mollusks, jellyfish; seagrass, algae and jellyfish. Loggerhead sea turtle is listed as a threatened species due to bycatch in fishing gear used by boats.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
The largest turtle can be over 6 feet in length and weigh over 2,000 lbs. With a very different look from other sea turtles, the shell is a single piece with five ridges and distinctive from others who have plated shells. Their skin is dark and covered with white or pink spots.
Feeding on jellyfish, salps, crustaceans, squid, urchins, they are deep divers of over 3,000 feet, the Leatherback nests on tropical beaches and can migrate as far north as Canada.
Green Sea Turtle
The green sea turtle is the most common in the world. They are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and they can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a large sea turtle that can weigh up to 350 pounds. Their shell is dark green, and their body is light green. The black turtle is a subspecies.
Green sea turtles are herbivores eating seaweed, seagrass, algae, and marine vegetation. Also, they are known to eat jellyfish and other invertebrates. The green sea turtle is listed as a vulnerable species, and they are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching, and climate change.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Named for the shape of their beak, the hawksbill sea turtle is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. They are a critically endangered species growing to 3.5 feet in length and weighing up to 180 pounds. their shell is dark brown, and their body is a beautiful light brown, tortoiseshell pattern on their carapace which has caused them to be hunted to near extinction.
They are herbivores and eat a variety of plants. They feed on sponges and can amazingly digest that needle-like skeleton. Listed as critically endangered from the loss of coral reefs, they are found in reefs, rocky areas, lagoons and estuaries
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
The smallest at 30 inches long with weight up to 100 lbs, they are coastal turtles and prefer to eat crabs. Look for them in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Habitats with muddy or sandy bottoms help them more easily find prey. Kemp’s Ridley’s are famous for their huge group style of nesting.
With an olive colored shell, they are small and weigh less than 100 lbs, eating mostly invertebrates like crabs, shrimp, jellyfish, rock lobsters although some only eat algae. You can find them in tropical regions around the world. Like Kemp’s Ridley, females come to shore in colonies of up to 1,000 turtles with mass nesting on the Central America and India coasts.
Flatback Sea Turtle
The only sea turtle species not found in North America and found in Australia is named for their flattened oliver grey carapace, the Flatback eat squid, sea cucumbers, soft corals and mollusks.
So, would you let your children witness each ocean site where no turtle exists? Give their future a chance. You can start by doing actions with a great purpose. Buy a shirt from shopthelowcountry.com and let us help these amazing creatures be free in the wild, safe and sound