Sea turtle track safari!

With amazing spring temperatures so early this year, sea turtles may begin creeping out of the sea earlier than usual. If you’re in the southeastern U.S. during sea turtle nesting season (typically May through October) you may have the opportunity in the early morning to stumble across the flipper tracks of a female sea turtle that dug a nest the night before.

  • Loggerhead sea turtles tracks alternate (comma-like) left and right flippers and there is no tail mark.
  • Green and leatherback sea turtles use their right and left flippers at the same time to crawl up the beach and they both have tail marks.
  • Leatherback sea turtles are the widest at approximately 6-7 feet across. Leatherback sea turtles travel over 3,000 miles to get to their nesting beaches.

Mother sea turtles lay 100-150 eggs in each nest. They may lay up to 3-8 nests per season. The juveniles hatch after 45-70 days under the cover of darkness.

Please note that it is a federal law to harass, feed, hunt, capture or kill sea turtles in the U.S. Do not interact with any nesting sea turtles as it could be interpreted as harassment. Check out the local National Park Service in the area for information on guided tours to witness a nesting female.

Image from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute: Guidelines for Marine Turtle Permit Holders

Where is the coral triangle?

After some research I scored a wonderful description of where the world’s most ecologically diverse  marine ecosystem lies. Spanning over six countries this 6 million kilometers squared coral triangle is significant because it is home to six of the seven species of sea turtles. This infographic, produced by World Wildlife Fund, gives a rundown of the protection status of each the sea turtle species as well as a wealth of other great information. For instance, did you know …

… 3000 leatherback sea turtles nested along the coast of Terengganu, Malaysia in 1960? In 2000, according to data from Dr. Chen Eng Heng with the Department of Fisheries in Malaysia, there were none.

… 90% of sea turtle hatchlings never make it to their first birthday.

Take a closer look at the infographic to learn more. Lastly, don’t forget May 23rd is International Turtle Day!

Who has the longest commute in the sea?

An animal lives to eat and breed. In order to do this, some animals that call the ocean habitat ‘home’ have to travel great distances to find food or reach a particular breeding ground. Here is a breakdown of some of the most impressive migrations in and around the sea.

Perhaps the longest migration of any mammal on Earth, the gray whales travel 12,000 miles round trip. They spend the summer months in the Bering Sea area between Alaska and Russia. Eventually they make their way to the west coast of Canada and the United States and finally end up in the quiet lagoons of Baja California during the winter months. In the spring they make their way back to the Bering Sea. Also, notable is the migration of the humpback whales. They can travel up to 5,000 miles.

Arctic terns fly over 25,000 miles to the Southern Ocean. Sooty shearwaters travel 64,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean in figure eight patterns.

Leatherback sea turtles travel over 3,000 miles to get to their nesting beaches.

Here is a video from PBS’ Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventure that gives a nice overview of the migration of the gray whale.

Image (c)

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