The first thing that you notice about turtles probably is their hard shell and slow pace. They do not come across as particularly smart creatures, but do you know that they have inhabited the earth for more than 200 million years? Doesn’t that mean they must be really special? Yes, they are, and there is so much more to them. Want to know?
Turtles are reptiles. Like all reptiles, they are cold blooded which means that their body becomes hot or cold depending on the temperature of their surroundings.
Most turtle species live in or around water. However, they never lay their eggs in water.
Turtles have a hard shell that protects them like a shield, this upper shell is called a ‘carapace’.
Turtles also have a lower shell called a ‘plastron’.
The heaviest turtles are Leatherback turtles that can weigh as much as 900 Kilograms!!
Leatherback turtles have unusually soft and leathery shells. Could it be because the only food they eat is gooey jelly fish? Nah! Jelly fishes have nothing to do with their soft shells ;)
On the other hand, Green turtles owe their looks to what they eat. These turtles look radiant and young for their age because they eat only sea grass and algae. Who knows that might work on humans too ;)
A Hawksbill turtle has mouth curved like a hawk’s beak. Hence the name!
Sadly, Hawksbill turtles are hunted often as their shells are used to make accessories like eyeglass frames and hair accessories. How meaningless :(
Loggerhead turtles have exceptionally big heads! These creatures sometime swim 15000 kms to lay their eggs. That would be almost like travelling from America to Japan!
Olive Ridley, a small sized sea turtle rarely weighing more than 50 kg, is famously known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas. During arribada, which means ‘arrival’ in Spanish, thousands of Olive ridleys come ashore in a frenzy to nest. They dig two feet holes in the sand and lay about 100 eggs in the cavity only to rush back to the sea again. They resurface again in two weeks to nest again. They usually lay two or three nests a season. Phew! that’s about 200-300 eggs!
Though olive ridleys nest on soft beaches of Mexico, Costa Rica and India, majority of olive ridleys nest in two or three large groups near Gahirmatha in Odisha, India. In 1991, over 600,000 turtles nested along the coast of Odisha in one week. Imagine what a sight that must be!
Olive ridleys leave the shore before their little ones hatch. The hatchlings, thousands in numbers, wait for the darkness before coming out of their nests and creeping into the sea. Right from when they are out of the egg, they have to learn everything on their own. Without mama or papa. Imagine how lucky are you?
Turtles are killed across the world by people for their meat. Some species of turtles have become highly endangered because of hunting. Many turtle eggs are eaten up by dogs and foxes, but their biggest predator is man! Do we truly want to be the reason for the extinction of some species that has existed even before we did?