Sea turtles lack teeth, and there are many species of sea turtles eat different foods. Each sea turtle feeds on a specific food. The change their eating habits as they grow up. Some sea turtles are omnivores, some are carnivores, and few are omnivores. Their diet depends on the structure of the jaws.
Species of Sea Turtles
Seven species of sea turtles found on the earth and each species have different eating habits.
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Green sea turtles eat green vegetables and seagrasses. The diet of the leatherback is preferably jellyfish and algae. They have a sharp edge beak that helps them to tear algae and seagrass found on the hard surfaces.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Hawksbill sea turtles eat sponges and jellyfishes with its beak that looks like a bird. These sea turtle species mostly found on the coral reefs. They maintain the coral reefs’ health by keeping in check the growth of the sponges and provides proper space and sunlight that is necessary for the flourishment of the coral reefs. Recent research shows that adult hawksbills found in the Caribbean Sea eat up to 544kg sponges per year.
Sea turtles have different shapes of jaws depending on the diet they are feeding on.
Leatherbacks Sea Turtle
These turtles have sharp and pointed jaws tips that help them to complete hold on the jellyfish and also have curved and sharp spines present in their mouth and throat that move the pray towards their stomach.
The plastic bags float on the surface of the water are very attractive to leatherbacks because they resemble the jellies. Eating plastic prove fatal to them.
The diet hatchlings differ from the adult’s turtles as they feed on different prays like jellyfishes, larval crabs, fish larva’s and eggs, seaweed, tiny sea animals, algae and hydrozoans like Portuguese Man-O-War and many others. On the other hand, Vegetarians sea turtles feed on little turtles and seagrasses.
Finally, these sea turtles lay approximately 110 eggs on average, and predators eat 80% – this means that only 12 turtles remain.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
These adults are mostly herbivores, and these sea turtles eat conchs, crabs, and whelks. They have very sharp and pointed jaws that enable them even to tear hard shells of prey. Unlike Loggerhead, hatchlings are omnivores and feed on both animals and plant stuff.
Also, one more exciting thing about sea turtles is that they regulate the coral reefs healthy. Without them, corals start eating algae, begin to be overgrown, and algae become fatal for them. They have special glands on their eyes to drink salty water, which makes them look like they are crying.
Flatback Sea Turtle
These sea turtles are available in some parts of the world and are omnivores. They feed on larval crabs, jellyfish, shrimp, fish eggs, and algae. Olive riddles are available on the coast of Australia and have a diet similar to the Flatback sea turtles.
It is essential to dispose of the plastic trash and reduce the single-use of plastic because it becomes harmful for the turtles as they confuse their food as the plastic marine in the ocean.
Some species of sea turtles like Snorkel and Max have difficulty to find their food. Sea turtles team trained them to come on the sea surface to receive their diet.
Max is blind in one eye, so he feeds on using the triangle and tongs method. Harold has sharp slightness, but they have slow brain processes that are unbaled to see food.
Moreover, other residential sea turtles have trained to come to the feeding stations at particular feeding time, and they also receive enrichment in the form of extra lettuce.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Olive Ridley feeds on a variety of foodstuffs like jellyfishes, lobster, algae, sea cucumbers, seaweed, and shrimp.
Interesting Facts About Sea Turtles
- They have lungs and spend most of their time underwater but come to the surface to grab air.
- Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle weight is about 100 pounds, while Leatherback is approximately 1000 pounds.
- They can comfortably live up to 100 years, depending on the turtle species.
Rehab turtles under Marine Aquarium require special care and have their own story. Many Rehab turtles are underweight, and some come with severe wounds, so they need extra calories to heal their wounds. They feed on lettuce, shrimp, fish eggs, and bok choy.
The diet change depending on the sea turtle, whether it is wild, rehab, or under Clearwater Aquarium, and many variables are involved in it.
According to the International Union of Conservative Nature’s red list, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is in the list of critical endangered while leatherback sea turtle is categorized as vulnerable.
I think this guideline will be beneficial to find the answer to question what sea turtles eat. Finally, we should work to secure the environment for both turtles and for those people who depend upon them to make their survival possible in the future.
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