Sea turtles are a group of species that fall under the family Dermochelyidae and the family Cheloniidae. Dermochelyidae are leatherback sea turtles and cheloniidae are green turtles, flatback sea turtles, hawksbills, loggerhead sea turtles and so on. Sea turtles vary in size but share common stages in food consumption and habitats. Most sea turtles are carnivorous in nature and reside in warm, ocean environments.
Let’s look at the life cycle of a sea turtle to get a better understanding.
Life Cycle of Sea Turtle
1) The Egg – Stage 1 –
Sea turtles prefer warm beaches in order to lay eggs. After fertilization, the female sea turtle lays her eggs in a nest on a beach. The female sea turtle is able to lay 100 to 200 eggs. She digs a hole shoreside and covers it with sand. The time for the eggs to hatch varies, depending on the species. After six weeks to around two months, hatchlings emerge from the eggs. The baby sea turtles have an egg tooth or caruncle which they use to break the egg shell, come out of the eggs and enter the water.
2) The Hatchlings – Stage 2 –
Hatchlings or baby sea turtles hatch after six weeks to two months of time. After the baby sea turtles have hatched, they are completely independent and do not require parental supervision. The baby sea turtles spend a long time drifting along the ocean currents. During this period, they feed on tiny organisms found on floating algae. This stage in a sea turtle’s life varies, depending on the species and availability of food. After some time, young sea turtles go near the seashore and settle there till they reach adult stage. In this stage, the young sea turtles are always mobile and migrating from one ocean to the other. This stage in a sea turtle’s life might last as long as a decade.
3) The Adult – Stage 3 –
After almost 30 to 50 years, depending upon the type of species, sea turtles are sexually mature and reach adulthood. During this stage, the adult sea turtles shift from their current location to the mating ground. Only female sea turtles come ashore in order to lay eggs. Male sea turtles migrate wherever they mate and feed. The female adult sea turtle has the ability to store the sperms in the oviduct during ovulation. These female sea turtles return to the seashore where they were born and lay eggs, every two to four years. Then the entire life cycle begins again.
Sea turtles are basically marine creatures who spend most of their time in solitary. Sea turtles tend to sleep on either the surface of the water or at the bottom, under the rocks. Sea turtles spend most of their life breeding and migrating from one ocean to the other.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Sea Turtle Life Cycle
What percentage of sea turtles survive?
Not all sea turtles survive the hatchling stage and enter adulthood. Only one in 1000 and one in 10,000 sea turtles survive and make it to the adult stage.
How long does it take for a sea turtle to lay eggs?
After fertilization, the female sea turtle digs a hole, places her eggs and covers it with sand to camouflage it. This process of digging, placing and covering the eggs takes about three hours.
How long do sea turtles live?
As no sea turtle has been observed from birth to death, there is no definite answer to this question. However, the average life expectancy of a sea turtle is 20 to 25 years. Certain species of turtles survive for as long as a decade.