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Sea Turtles: Sea Turtle Species

In this guide you will find a brief overview of the different sea turtle species and research materials available on these reptiles

Leatherback

Species Description

Weight: Adult: up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg)
Hatchling: 1.5-2 ounces (40-50 g)
Length: Adult: 6.5 feet (2 m)
Hatchling: 2-3 inches (50-75 cm)
Appearance:  primarily black shell with pinkish-white coloring on their belly
Lifespan: unknown
Diet: soft-bodied animals, such as jellyfish and salps, and pyrosomes
Behavior: females lay clutches of approximately 100 eggs several times during a nesting season, typically at 8-12 day intervals

Kemp's Ridley

Species Description

Weight: Adult: 100 pounds (45 kg)
Hatchling: 0.5 ounces (14 g)
Length: Adult: 24-28 inches (60-70 cm)
Hatchling: 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
Appearance:  grayish-green, nearly circular, top shell with a pale yellowish bottom shell
Lifespan: unknown
Diet: crabs, fish, jellyfish, and mollusks
Behavior: "arribada" nesting, where large groups gather and come ashore and nest all at once

Green

Species Description

Weight: Adults: 300-350 pounds (135-150 kg)
Hatchlings: 0.05 pounds (25 g)
Length: Adults: 3 feet (1 m)
Hatchlings: 2 inches (50 mm)
Appearance: top shell (carapace) is smooth with shades of black, gray, green, brown, and yellow; their bottom shell (plastron) is yellowish white
Lifespan: unknown, but sexual maturity occurs anywhere between 20-50 years
Diet: seagrasses and algae
Behavior: females return to the same beaches where they were born ("natal" beaches) every 2-4 years to lay eggs, generally in the summer months

Olive Ridley

Species Description

Weight: Adult: 100 pounds (45 kg)
Hatchling: <1 ounce (28 g)
Length: Adult: 22-31 inches (55-80 cm)
Hatchling: 1.5 inches (4 cm)
Appearance:  olive/grayish-green (darker in the Atlantic than in the Pacific) with a heart-shaped top shell ("carapace") and 5-9 pairs of costal "scutes" with 1-2 claws on their flippers; hatchlings emerge mostly black with a greenish hue on their sides
Lifespan: unknown, but they reach sexual maturity at about 15 years
Diet: algae, lobster, crabs, tunicates, mollusks, shrimp, and fish
Behavior: one of the most extraordinary nesting habits in the natural world, vast numbers of olive ridley turtles come ashore and nest in what is known as an "arribada"; females nest every year, once or twice in a season, laying clutches of approximately 100 eggs

Loggerhead

Species Description

Weight: Adult: 250 pounds (113 kg)
Hatchling: 0.05 pounds (20 g)
Length: Adult: 3 feet (~1 m)
Hatchling: 2 inches (4 cm)
Appearance: reddish-brown, slightly heart-shaped top shell ("carapace") with pale yellowish bottom shell ("plastron"); hatchlings are brown to dark gray
Lifespan: unknown, but they reach sexual maturity at around 35 years old
Diet: whelks and conch
Behavior: females nest from April-September and generally lay 3-5 nests per season

Hawksbill

Species Description

Weight: Adult: 100-150 pounds (45-70 kg)
Hatchling: 0.5 ounces (15 g)
Length: 25-35 inches (65-90 cm)
Appearance: top shell (carapace) is dark to golden brown, with streaks of orange, red, and/or black with a serrated back and overlapping "scutes", while the bottom shell (plastron) is clear yellow;
hatchlings are mostly brown
Lifespan: unknown
Diet: sponges and other invertebrates, algae
Behavior: females return to the beaches where they were born (natal beaches) to nest, which occurs every 2-3 years at night and approximately every 14-16 days during the nesting season

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Information for this page is from NOAA. For more information, visit NOAA's Endangered Species Conservation page.