Florida Sea Turtle Information - Sea Turtle Mating Habits_Migration Patterns


Florida Sea Turtles
Mating & Migration

 

 

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Do Sea Turtles Really Return
To Their Birthplace?



Sea turtle mating may take place on the ocean bottom, the surface or in open water. Mating occurs about 30 days before the females begin nesting. The early season matings will fertilize an entire season's eggs.

It's a common assumption that sea turtles nest on the same beach where they were hatched. This is not a known certainty since it's impossible to track a turtle from the time it hatches until it returns to nest. (See Nesting Sea Turtle Photos)


Has this sea turtle really returned to the
beach it left as a hatchling?


However, once a turtle begins to use a specific beach for nesting, she does appear to return to the same beach season after season.

Since turtles often winter hundreds of miles from their nesting beaches, it is a mystery how they find their way back year after year.

Perhaps they follow a special taste or smell that is unique to each region of the ocean or coastline, or they may navigate by the earth's magnetic fields. It's likely sea turtles employ a combination of senses to form their natural guidance system.

Another common misconception is that females tend to deposit their eggs around the time of the full moon. The theory is that the full moon creates a higher tide, which in turns will better hide the nesting trails.

Excellent logic, but it doesn't appear to be true. Turtles nest during all phases of the moon, with cycles of 10 to about 17 days between nestings.

Turtle eggs incubate for about 60 days. The hatchlings normally break out of the nest at night. The daytime heat could be fatal to hatchlings, especially if they did not find the sea immediately. The cool of the night is safer, plus the cover of darkness foils many predators.

Life is a precarious for hatchlings since their small size makes them easy prey for birds and fish. They seem to recognize this since they totally disappear their first year of life.

Scientists cannot agree where the hatchlings go until they reach eight to 10 inches in length. Leatherbacks and ridleys are rarely seen until they mature.

To Page 4, Endangered Sea Turtles

To Where to See Nesting Sea Turtles

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