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Common Species of Turtles

Common Species of Turtles

Turtles inhabit saline, brackish or fresh water. Marine turtles are on this earth for more than 100 million years.

Marine turtles possess hard beak-like mouth to tear and mash food, a large carapace (upper shell), 2 pairs of strong flippers to swim inside the deep sea/ocean and lungs to breath air.

Due to a number of human activities like hunting for their meat and eggs, pollution, demolition of natural habitats like mangrove forests, coral reefs, nesting beaches etc. a number of marine turtle species are now considered as threatened.

There are seven marine-turtle species known so far among which six are found in Australia.

The following are the different species of marine turtles.

Caretta caretta (Loggerhead turtle)

  • 55-95 cm long and weigh around 55 kg.
  • Vertebral/coastal scutes in pairs
  • 3 pairs of infra-marginal scutes
  • Large head with strong jaws
  • Front-flippers with two claws
  • Males have thicker, longer tails and narrower shells
  • Carnivorous

Chelonia mydas Green sea-turtle (name derived from their green colored fat)

  • Length- 80-120 cm and weight- 130-250 kg
  • Adults- brown, hatchlings- almost black
  • Coastal scutes-2pairs
  • 2 scales on the fore-head
  • Single claw on each fore-flipper
  • Omnivorous
  • Strong jagged jaws

Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback turtle)

  • Largest sea turtles
  • Dark blue to black, with pink or white patches
  • 120-210cm long
  • May weigh up to 900kg
  • Skin smooth and leathery with numerous tiny bones embedded in it
  • 7 elevated ridges on the shell-surface
  • Claws absent
  • Serrated jaws
  • Carnivorous
  • Can withstand a wider range of temperature

Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill turtle)

  • Greenish-brown to dark
  • 55-95 cm long and 55kg weight
  • Narrow jaws with overhanging and curved upper beak
  • Scutes overlapping
  • 2 claws on each of the fore-flippers
  • Concave plastron in males, tail longer and thicker, bigger claws
  • Carnivorous

Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive Ridley turtle)

  • Grayish-brown Hatchlings and olive green adults
  • Smallest sea-turtles (50-70cm long and around 50 kg in weight)
  • Shell almost round with 6 to 9 lateral scutes
  • Carnivorous
  • Claws (1-2) grow on flippers

Natator depressus (Flatback turtle)

  • Olive grey colored turtles
  • Grow up to 97 cm in length and 84 kgs weight
  • Flat and round shells
  • Omnivorous
  • Shell margins folded and covered by thin, non-overlapping waxy scutes

Lepidochelys kempii (Kemp’s Ridley)

  • Gray to light olive green
  • Size: 70 cm in length and weight 45 kg
  • Five lateral scutes
  • Claws present on the claws
  • Carnivorous

Chelonia agassizi (Black turtle)

  • Grayish black with black markings
  • Length- 117cm and weight up to 126 kg
  • Jaws- jagged
  • Single claw on each front-flipper
  • Omnivores


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