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Slide Notes

What do you know about sea turtles?

Has anyone ever seen a live sea turtle? Where was it?

Any idea of why they might need our help?

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Sea Turtles Need Our Help

Published on Jan 01, 2017

This presentation begins with an overview of reptiles, then focuses on sea turtles. It presents slides on the 7 types of sea turtles with some of their distinguishing features. It then delves into the perils sea turtles face, and shares the efforts of many volunteers who help them.


Sea Turtles

in need of our help!
What do you know about sea turtles?

Has anyone ever seen a live sea turtle? Where was it?

Any idea of why they might need our help?

Photo by laszlo-photo

What is a reptile?

-bodies are same temperature as their environment
-when it's hot, they're hot; -when it's cold, they're cold
-sometimes sit in sun to warm up or hide in shade to cool off
*are vertebrates
-have backbones
*have scales
*usually have dry skin
*lay eggs on land

Examples of reptiles...
Photo by sixpackshack


are reptiles
*large predatory reptile
*long jaws,
*long tail,
*short legs
*horny textured skin,
*uses submersion and stealth to approach prey unseen


are reptiles
*typically have long bodies and tails
*four legs
*movable eyelids
*rough, scaly, or spiny skin
Photo by seanmcgrath


are reptiles
*are long limbless reptiles
*have no eyelids,
*have short tails
*have jaws that are capable of considerable extension
*Some snakes have a venomous bite
Photo by TeryKats


are reptiles
*have protective shells
*Mainly live on land
*Have claws
*Have bent legs and walk on land
*Mostly herbivores.
*Live 80-150 years!
*From Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Photo by roamingwab


are reptiles
*reptiles that live on land, in water, or both
*have a toothless horny beak
*have a shell of bony plates which covers the body
*can usually pull head, legs, tail into shell for protection

Turtle skeleton

Sometimes it's hard to imagine turtles having bones or a skeleton!

The skeleton of turtle includes shell, ribs, arms / flippers, skull
Photo by jared422_80

SEA turtles!

What do you know about them?
Sea turtles: one type of turtle

Unique features?
*Have flippers instead of feet

What climate / environment do they live in?
*Live mainly in warmer water (the ocean / sea)

How big are they?
*largest: leatherbacks; 500-2000 lbs; 6' long shell
*smallest: Kemp's ridley; 30" shell; 100 lbs

What do they eat?
*Eat jelly fish (leatherbacks)
*Eat sponges (hawksbills)
*Eat sea grass (green turtles)
*Eat shrimp, sea urchins, fish, seaweed, mollusks

How do they breathe?
*Need to breathe air
*Have lungs, not gills
*Can hold their breath for 2-7 hrs when restful, like sleeping.
**some sea turtles, like the leatherback, can dive down to 3000 ft for their food ... jellyfish!

When do they leave the water?
*Only come to shore to lay eggs
*Live 50-100 years!

Photo by SteFou!

7 Sea Turtle Varieties

Sea Turtles: 7 varieties!

*Loggerhead sea turtles
*Green sea turtles
*Kemp's Ridley sea turtles
*Flatback sea turtles
*Leatherback sea turtles
*Hawksbill sea turtles
*Olive Ridley's sea turtles

Photo by Gord Campbell

Loggerhead turtles

Body shaped like a heart.
Head bigger than any other sea turtle species.
Photo by EarthTouch

Green sea turtle

Weighs about 400 lbs
Measures about 5.5 feet

Flatback sea turtle

Lives in Australia.
Shell is flat or smooth without scales / plates.
Photo by neomyrtus

Leatherback sea turtle

Largest of all sea turtles.
Weighs 500 - 2000 lbs.
Measures 6 feet long
Shell is leathery.
Photo by rustinpc

Hawksbill sea turtle

*Has a mouth like a sharp, pointed beak.
*Eats jellyfish
*VERY endangered
*Scales on shell overlap like shingles on a house.
*Can grow to be 3 feet long.
*Shell and body can change color (is bioflourescent) due to its diet of bioflourescent animals!
Photo by Derek Keats

Olive ridley sea turtle

Gray / green color.
Heart-shaped shell.
Most people familiar with this type.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle

*Most endangered of all sea turtles...extremely high risk of extinction
*smallest sea turtle: they can grow to be 30" long
*weigh up to 110 lbs
*start breeding at age 12
*nest during the day in groups
*nest along short stretch on Gulf of Mexico
*nests shallow and not too well disguised for predators

Photo by qnr

Why do sea turtles come to land?

How often? Where do they go when on land?
Why do sea turtles come to land?
*Sea turtles come to land only to lay eggs!

How often sea turtles come to land?
*Sea turtles come to land only 2-8 times / yr.

Where and when are eggs laid?
*Eggs laid on tropical sandy beaches, usually at night, covered up with sand and left to incubate on own.
*90% of sea turtle nesting in the US occurs in Florida!

How many eggs do sea turtles lay?
*Sea turtles lay an ave. of 110 eggs, 2-8 times a year!
*some species lay 50 eggs at a time
*some lay 200 eggs at a time

How long does it take for eggs to hatch?
*Takes 70-120 days to hatch.

Photo by fveronesi1

With so many eggs being laid...

why are sea turtles in need of our help?

What's happening with sea turtles?

Sea Turtles have a PROBLEM!! They're Endangered: seriously at risk of going extinct!

*biggest threats:
-habitat loss
-illegal wildlife trade for their body parts
-collection of eggs for eating
-accidental capture and drowning while fishing for other species (bycatch)
-climate change

Photo by arjandijksma

Habitat loss

Sea turtles losing their nesting areas
Human activity has greatly impacted the future of sea turtles:

*Construction of resorts / cities along the coast destroys nesting habitat.

*Not much sandy beach left that's undisturbed to nest and lay eggs

*People recreate and drive jeeps on sandy beaches, destroying nests.
Photo by miamism

Illegal trade

for eggs, meat, skin, shells
People capture and sell turtles:
*for pets,
*kill them to use their shells to make trinkets like combs, eye glasses, or souvenirs.
*eat them as a delicacy
Photo by shankar s.

Turtles eaten

Some cultures believe eating eggs of turtles is great for your health; aphrodisiacs.

Turtles get caught in nets

and drown or are killed accidentally
All over the world, hundreds of thousands of turtles get accidentally caught in fishing nets and drown: it's called 'by-catch'

*caught in shrimp trawl nets,
*on longline hooks and
*in fishing gillnets every year. 

This is the greatest threat to most sea turtles, especially endangered loggerheads, greens and leatherbacks.
Photo by USFWS Pacific

Climate Change

Loss of food and unpredictable weather
As the earth heats up, some of the food sources the sea turtles eat is disappearing. Coral is dying and sea grass is disappearing; these are things sea turtles eat.
*coral is made up of thousands of tiny animals living together in a group; when coral is healthy, it's usually very colorful
*when coral is white, it's usually dead

Climate change can affect the temperature of the sand where eggs are laid, altering the sexes of baby turtles.
Photo by PacificKlaus


Pollution can mean dirty air, dirty water or trash in water. Turtles get tangled and drown in plastic bags, old nets, fishing line.

Chemicals in the water can kill turtles and the food they need to eat.
Photo by Jeroen Bosman

Cold water: another threat!

Being cold-blooded reptiles, if turtles get caught in water too cold to navigate, they can get stranded.

This has happened for decades and continues today along the east coast of the US, especially in Cape Cod.

Thankfully, since the 1980s, 100 volunteers have monitored beaches of Cape Cod, looking for and rescuing turtles washed ashore, too cold to move.

*1980s: 10 / year found
*1999: 278 found
Photo by dhilung

Help from a sea turtle

fan in Idaho!
Leslie Weinstein, a fan and supporter of sea turtles since he was young, heard about the stranded turtles on the east coast. Even though he lives in Idaho, he wanted to help.

Leslie works in the aviation (airplane) industry so he knows lots of pilots with private planes all over the country, including the east coast.

He's also an alum of the University of FL, and a member of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research (ACCSTR) development board, so he's a REAL fan of turtles!

Cold, stranded turtles...

rescued, warmed, rehabilitated, then released
Lots of volunteers help with 'cold-stunned' turtle rescue efforts:
*volunteers who search the beaches for stranded turtles, taking them to temporary holding centers for medical care
*volunteers at Audubon societies and temporary holding centers that help cold turtles get healthy and warm
*volunteers like Leslie who coordinate transportation by plane so turtles can get to rehabilitation centers quickly
*fire fighters and rescue folks who help load turtles for transport
*pilots who donate their fuel and time to fly rescued turtles to rehabilitation centers
*rehab specialists bringing turtles back to good health
*sea turtle and animal organizations who educate people about the importance of sea turtles, raise money for rescue efforts
*governments who help create laws to protect sea turtles from poaching, fishing, and illegal trade

Cold turtles warmed

and cared for before going to rehab
Once picked up from the beach, cold turtles are slowly warmed and given medicine if needed at temporary facilities.

Turtles transported

to the airport in a rescue vehicle
Once their health is stabilized, the turtles are then transported to rehabilitation centers where they will live until they can be safely released back into the ocean.

Turtles flown to rehab centers

Flying turtles in a plane is a fast way to get them to rehabilitation centers.

They will stay at the rehab centers until they are healthy enough to be released back into the ocean.

YOU can get involved in saving sea turtles too!

Pick up a brochure for more information on what can be done
Photo by levork

What can we do

to help sea turtles??
Everyone can help save sea turtles from going extinct.

Hundreds of organizations exist that are helping educate people about sea turtles.
*contact them to see what you can do
*make donations (money, planes / vehicles no longer used to be sold for cash, equipment that may be needed, TIME!)

Get educated, then educate others!
*We need to learn more about how sea turtles live so we can help in all the ways we can.
*We need to convince others of the importance of saving this species
Photo by USFWS Pacific