Sea turtles are one of the most ancient animals on our planet. They have navigated throughout the world's oceans for 100 to 150 million years, since dinosaurs inhabited earth. These amazing animals have long fascinated people and are part of many traditions and legends of numerous cultures around the world. Nevertheless from the once millions of sea turtles that roamed our oceans, today only a tiny fraction remains.
For the past few hundreds of year's sea turtles have been hunted on a big scale for their meat and eggs, as well as their skin and beautiful shells reducing their numbers significantly. Destruction of their feeding grounds, marine pollution, incidental capture in commercial fishing gear and the loss of nesting areas due to coastal development additionally worsened the already tense situation. Today sea turtles are at (a high) risk to become extinct in the wild in the near future. A really sad outlook. So it's time to intensify the efforts to guard and help these amazing animals.
Sea turtles are large, air-breathing reptiles living in oceans throughout the world except for frigid waters. With their flat, streamlined body and large flippers they are well adapted to a life at sea. Their shells consist of an upper part (the so called carapace) and a bottom part (called plastron). Hard scales (or scutes) cover all but the Leatherback Sea Turtle. Contrary to land turtles, sea turtles can't retract their head and legs into their shells.
Sea turtles have a beak-like mouth without teeth that suits their particular diet. They don't have visible ears; their eardrums are covered by skin with which they hear best at low frequencies. Their sense of smell is excellent. While their vision underwater is quite good, on land they are nearsighted.
Even though sea turtles are marine animals, they are still closely connected to the land. Females come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand of numerous beaches around the world and after an incubation time of around 2 months all sea turtles hatch on land before making their way to the ocean.
Sea turtles come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. The 7 species still existing in our oceans belong to two families:
- the Cheloniidae family which include the hard shelled sea turtles like the Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, the Flatback Sea Turtle and the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
- the Dermochelyidae family includes only the Leatherback Sea Turtle. As the name already suggests this species has leathery skin instead of a hard shell.
Only 4 of the 7 sea turtle species frequent the beaches in and around Cancun for nesting. These are described in detail below.
The Green Sea Turtle is the most common sea turtle coming to the beaches of Cancun to lay their eggs …more
These beautiful sea turtles are named for their oversized heads that look like a big log. Their jaws …more
Hawksbill Sea Turtles are probably the most beautiful of all sea turtles due to their stunning …more