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15 Interesting Baby Sea Turtle Facts

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Sea turtles are arguably some of the coolest animals to be found swimming in the sea. These large reptiles have evolved to live a life at sea, only coming onto land to nest to produce the next generation of sea turtles. In this article, we teach you 15 baby sea turtle facts. These little guys are arguably some of the cutest animals in the ocean!

Baby Sea Turtle Facts

Baby sea turtle on shore
Baby sea turtle on shore | Image by Mike Brice from Pixabay

 

1. Baby sea turtles have a one in 1,000 chance of surviving to adulthood

When they first hatch, baby sea turtles have a lot of obstacles they are up against: predators, desiccation, rough weather, and even falling into holes left behind by beachgoers. For these reasons, not many hatchlings will make it to maturity.

2. Females can lay a lot of eggs

They may share anywhere between 50 to 200 siblings. Adult sea turtles lay many eggs, and depending on the species can lay up to 200 eggs in a single clutch.

3. Baby sea turtles are born with a special egg-tooth

Baby sea turtles have a temporary egg tooth that they use to break themselves out of their eggs.

4. The babies have to dig themselves out of the sand when born

Sea turtles are born in the sand. Sea turtle mothers bring themselves up onto the beach to nest where they will spend an evening digging deep into the sand to deposit their eggs. Once they hatch, these babies can spend as long as a week digging themselves out of the sand and up onto the beach!

Sea turtle hatchlings
Sea turtle hatchlings | Image by confused_me from Pixabay

5. They can swim immediately after hatching

Baby sea turtles do not have to learn how to swim, it is instinctual. Once they make it out of the nest, they make a beeline down to the shore and immediately begin to swim.

6. Baby sea turtles are abandoned by their mothers

After the mother sea turtle lays her eggs, she will return to the ocean and the babies will be left to their own devices when they hatch. It may sound like tough love, but this is common for reptiles. The babies have all the tools they need to survive as soon as they hatch.

7. Their shells start off soft and somewhat pliable

When they first hatch, sea turtle shells, and most other turtles have shells that are slightly soft. This is completely normal and they will harden with age.

Baby loggerhead sea turtles on white sand
Baby loggerhead sea turtles on white sand | image by Bureau of Land Management via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

8. Their sex depends on temperature

When developing in their eggs buried in the sand, temperature is what determines what sex the hatchlings will be. An incubation temperature of 81.86 degrees fahrenheit will produce males while warmer temperatures of 88.8 degrees produces females. This does not necessarily mean that all hatchlings will be one sex though, some eggs that are buried deeper in the cooler sand could incubate at a much cooler temperature than those laid closer to the top of the nest.

9. Climate change could mean fewer male hatchlings

As mentioned above, temperature dictates the sex of baby sea turtles. With temperatures rising due to climate change, researchers are already seeing fewer male sea turtles being born.

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10. They only eat underwater

They eat molluscs, jellyfish, seaweed, crustaceans and fish eggs while they’re beneath the ocean’s surface.

Baby sea turtle floats in water
Baby sea turtle floats in water | image by Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

11. They can use light to find their way

They use light and the reflection of the sun to find their way to the ocean after hatching. However, other lights nearby from streetlights, lights outside people’s houses or from businesses can confuse them and lead them astray.

12. Sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches where they hatched

The beach where they hatch is also where they will lay their own eggs. Once baby sea turtles reach maturity, they will return to the same beach where they hatched to mate and lay eggs of their own.

13. They start out very small and can grow quite large

They start out being a mere two inches long. It takes between 7 and 30 years for them to fully grow and mature depending on the species. Leatherback babies are only around 2-3 inches in length at birth, but can grow to over 2,000 pounds as adults.

14. Swimming is the name of the game for baby sea turtles

When they reach the water after hatching, they enter a swimming frenzy. As soon as baby sea turtles hit the water, they begin to swim. They will swim almost continuously for 24-48 hours. This behavior is meant to get them into deeper water quicker to make them less vulnerable to predators.

15. Little is known about life in the first 1-3 years of a sea turtle

Not much is known about how they live the first one to three years of their life. Once they reach the water, it is a bit of a mystery how baby sea turtles spend their first few years. Marine biologists call these the “lost years”. However, it has been hypothesized that they spend their time riding ocean currents and tucking themselves into floating seaweed to find food.

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About Samantha S.

Samantha is a wildlife biologist with a masters degree in environmental biology. Most of her work has been with reptiles, however she has also worked with birds and marine organisms as well. She enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and looking for wildlife.