thursday trivia

Thursday Trivia: Flatback Sea Turtles

Posted Thu, Oct 27, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to australia, bycatch, flatback sea turtles, thursday trivia, twitter

flatback sea turtle

A flatback sea turtle. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

We’re down to the last sea turtle in our trivia series, and it’s the least understood species of all – the flatback.

Flatback sea turtles nest only in Australia, and as a result of their limited range they are are poorly understood and at serious risk. Fortunately, Australia is working hard to protect large portions of the flatback’s habitat.

In addition to their namesake flat shells, flatbacks can be recognized by their olive-grey tops and yellow bellies. These turtles are known to float on the surface of the ocean, sunning their shells, often with birds on their backs. Flatbacks eat primarily fish, mollusks, and sea squirts.

Flatback turtles are caught accidentally in fishing nets, and they made up the majority of turtle bycatch in the Northern Prawn Fishery until turtle excluder devices – i.e. escape hatches -- were introduced. Other threats to flatbacks include coastal pollution and habitat degradation.

Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch, protecting habitat, and promoting legislation that keeps turtles safe. You can learn more about flatback sea turtles from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.

If you can tweet us the name of every type of sea turtle, you could win a tote bag. That’s it for our sea turtle themed trivia! We’ll be back next week with more fun facts about other ocean animals. 


Continue reading...

Thursday Trivia: Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Posted Thu, Oct 6, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to hawksbill sea turtle, sea turtles, thursday trivia

hawksbill sea turtle

The adult hawksbill sea turtle lives in shallow warm water in coral reefs and mangrove areas around the globe.

This type of turtle is named for its beak-shaped mouth, which it uses to pry food out of nooks in a reef (tweet us their favorite food and you could win a prize!)—they also have two claws on each front flipper.

Like other sea turtles, hawksbills lay their eggs on sandy beaches, cover the clutch, and then head back to the ocean. When the eggs hatch, baby hawksbills make their way to the ocean. They can’t dive as well as other types of turtles, though, so they typically eat seaweed closer to the surface as they grow up. Less than one in 1000 hawksbill eggs will survive to adulthood.

Hawksbill sea turtles suffer the consequences of beaches that are no longer safe for nesting, unsafe fishing equipment, and struggling reefs, but they are also hunted by humans, particularly for their shells, which are the chief source of tortoiseshell. International law prohibits trading hawksbill shells.

Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch, protecting habitat, and promoting legislation that keeps turtles safe. You can learn more about hawksbill sea turtles from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.


Continue reading...

Thursday Trivia: Green Sea Turtle

Posted Thu, Sep 29, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to bycatch, green sea turtle, marine wildlife, thursday trivia

green sea turtle

Actresses Angela Kinsey and Rachael Harris swim with a green sea turtle. © Tim Calver

Green sea turtles are the most common type of marine turtle in tropical and subtropical waters (How many countries do they nest in? It’s this week’s trivia question on Twitter, so answer now to win!)

Green sea turtles begin their lives on sandy beaches. Every year, females return to the beaches where they themselves were born to leave their eggs buried in the sand. After six or eight weeks, the hatchlings use their egg tooth, which later falls out, to break out of the shell. All of the eggs in a clutch hatch at the same time, and the hatchlings make their way together to the ocean.

This hatching process means that young green sea turtles are often eaten by predators like ghost crabs, gulls, sharks, and dolphins. Those that survive live in the deep ocean for a few years and then move to shallower waters along coastlines and reefs. Young green sea turtles eat animals like jellyfish, crabs, and snails, but adults, unlike most types of sea turtles, eat only plants.

Green sea turtles in Florida and the Pacific side of Mexico are considered endangered by the IUCN; the other global populations are classified as threatened. One of the biggest threats to green sea turtles is accidental capture in fishing gear, also known as bycatch. Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch and protecting habitat.

You can learn more about green sea turtles -- and hundreds of other marine animals -- from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.


Continue reading...