Fun Facts About Sea Turtles in Key West
Sea turtles are among the most exciting marine animals to spot in the wild. Whether it’s because those sightings don’t happen every day or because they’re just so darned adorable, sea turtles are beloved by many. Key West and South Florida are home to a variety of sea turtle species that thrive in the open ocean and also make landfall on our beaches for nesting. At the Key West Aquarium, our Sea Turtle Conservation program, led by our resident veterinarian Dr. Douglas Mader, rehabilitates sea turtles that have been harmed in the wild. You can visit them during a special guided tour of the aquarium. That includes our youngest and also largest sea turtle Spike, a 15-year-old loggerhead turtle weighing in at a whopping 275 pounds!
Read on for more fun facts about these docile, graceful creatures.
1. Key West’s two most common sea turtle species are loggerheads and green sea turtles. We’re also home to hawks bill and Kemp Ridley sea turtles.
2. Most species of sea turtles are on the endangered species list, so it’s very important that we work together on conservation. Their main threats are loss of habitat, pollution and predators.
3. Sea turtles feed on jellyfish. That’s why pollution in our oceans, like plastic bags, cups and soda rings are especially dangerous to the graceful animals. The plastic looks like jellyfish to them, and ingesting plastic leads to suffocation and other potentially fatal health problems.
4. Sea turtles have long life spans. Loggerheads, for instance, are known to live up to nearly 70 years. They can also grow to weigh as much as 1,000 pounds. The best way to guess the age of a sea turtle is by its size.
5. Sea turtles are reptiles that live most of their lives swimming in salt water. The only time they come on land is during nesting season when females lay eggs on the beach. Nesting season begins in March and baby sea turtles hatch 50 to 60 days after they’ve been laid. Nesting season usually lasts until October.
6. When baby sea turtles hatch, they’re only three inches long. They have a natural instinct to crawl from their nest on the beach to the sea without any guidance to start their lives of ocean dwelling.
7. If you’re on the waters in Key West, you might spot a sea turtle in the wild! Look for a splash at the water’s surface and the large head of a loggerhead turtle or keep your eyes peeled under the sea while snorkeling. They’re quite the sight!
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