Sea Turtle Information - Description and Behavior

Sea Turtles:
Description & Behavior






Florida Everglades


Sea Turtles
An Ancient Species

The earliest sea turtle fossils date back about 150,000,000 years, to a time when vast shallow seas covered much of the earth.

Sea turtles adapted in several specialized ways because of their watery habitat. Their forelimbs are sleek and paddle-like to propel them swiftly through the ocean. Their shells are more streamlined and less boxy than many land species. (See Nesting Sea Turtle Photos)

Green Turtle Hatchling
Green turtle hatchling struggling to
reach the water


Because they spend almost their entire lives in the water, sea turtles developed more than just lungs for breathing.

They are able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the surrounding water thanks to extensive capillary vascularization in their cloacal cavity, and their buccal cavity.

By circulating water in these cavities and also by reducing their metabolism dramatically, sea turtles can stay submerged from between 40 minutes to five hours if they are not active and the water is not too warm. Sea turtles do not have teeth.

Their bird-like beaks and jaws are quite powerful, able to crush, tear or chew food with little problem. Like all reptiles, sea turtles lack external ears. Instead, the sea turtle eardrum is covered over by skin. With a few exceptions, male sea turtles spend 100 percent of their lives in the ocean.

Female sea urtles have only one need of the land: to deposit their eggs. Adult sea turtles are solitary creatures most of the time. Their only true social interaction is said to occur during courtship and mating.

To Page 3 Sea Turtle Birth & Migrations

To Florida Animals & Wildlife Home

To Where to See Nesting Sea Turtles

To Sea Turtle Homepage