Sea Turtles Life Cycle

Sea Turtles live in the ocean and it is only the female turtles that come to the beach to nest after series of mating; the males don’t. When the females emerge to nest on beaches, they look around for the most convenient place for nesting. Interestingly, some sea turtles nest in differently places on the beach. For example, the leatherback, green turtle, olive ridley and loggerheads nest on open sandy areas while the hawksbills venture into vegetated areas around the beach. Once the appropriate site for nesting is identified, the turtle digs a pit of about 2ft, deposits between 80 - 150 eggs and covers the pit with her flippers. When she is finished, she covers the eggs, disguises the nest site, and goes back to the ocean. They often come to shore several times in a nesting season to do this again. The number of eggs laid and incubation periods usually vary per species. Turtles are part of the reptile species that do not take care of their eggs and young.

When sea turtle eggs hatch, the hatchlings quickly find their way to the ocean where they feed for several years until they become adults. There are different numbers of years which hatchling of each species spends out at sea. We refer to those years as the “lost years” as there isn’t sufficient information about them. It takes a long time for sea turtles to reach adulthood. According to scientific studies, it can take up to 12-50 years before they will first breed and this varies among species. When they have become full-grown, both the males and females swim close to the shore to mate. Amazingly, females often return to the same beach on which they hatched to lay their own eggs. Like some other reptiles, the temperature of the sea turtle nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. Warmer temperatures produce more females while cooler temperatures result in more males. All hatchlings are faced with lots of threats from the moment they emerge from their nests. Only a few reach adulthood.