Sea Turtles Habitat and Distribution

Facts and Information

You will find sea turtles living in most locations where you find water with the exception of the Arctic. They live in waters that are shallow most of the time, along the coast. It is common to find them living estuaries, lagoons, bays. They also go into the open sea in order to find enough food and security. They tend to remain in the warmer water locations.

It is extremely hard to get a good count for the number of sea turtles in any given location. This is because many of them never come to shore after they are born. The males will go from shore to water and remain there for their entire lives. Only the females come to shore so that they can deposit eggs. However, some species of sea turtles have mature females that come to shore annually. With others though it is every couple of years.

There is also the fact that many of the females will go to more than one location to deposit eggs as they can have several clutches per mating season. This can make it hard to know if a female is being counted more than once or not at all. Experts are still trying to figure out a good way to get a firm count on the sea turtle populations out there.

Migration is a big part of the habitat movements for sea turtles. They tend to move for mating and for getting to their nesting grounds.  This could prove to be a substantial amount of distance for some of them and not very far for others. Migration patterns can also vary based on the species of sea turtle.

Sea Turtles Distribution

Sea Turtle in shallow water

The information that scientists do have about migration for sea turtles comes from a very detailed tagging and tracking system for free range sea turtles. A tag is placed on their flipper and they document where they were spotted at. Even so, it is still very hard to identify the various routes that a sea turtle takes but we can gain information about how far they travel.

With certain species of sea turtles though it is noted that they take on only certain migration routes year after year. Those are the focal points of being able to preserve their habitat so that they can continue to migrate. Without that ability, mating declines and so does the number of eggs that will successfully yield hatchlings.

Sometimes, there are sea turtles found in locations where they normally haven’t been identified. It is believed they may somehow get into fishing nets and traps but then escape and that is how they are able to get to those other destinations. Still, it may be possible that they are evolving in order to be able to survive when their own habitat isn’t offering them the right conditions or enough food. There isn’t enough information yet for experts to fully understand such a scenario.

All of the species of sea turtles are listed as being endangered due to habitat destruction. This includes the beaches where they lay their eggs as well as the waters that they reside in. Many studies show that the number of females coming to shore annually to lay eggs has dropped and that is a huge concern for the future of them.

For many sea turtles, the biggest threat to their survival stems from the fact that their natural habitat has been disrupted. There are efforts in place to make people more aware of them and where they live but too often humans are only interested in their own activities in those same bodies of water.


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