Common Species of Turtles

Turtles inhabit saline, brackish or fresh water. Marine turtles are on this earth for more than 100 million years.

Marine turtles possess hard beak-like mouth to tear and mash food, a large carapace (upper shell), 2 pairs of strong flippers to swim inside the deep sea/ocean and lungs to breath air.  

Due to a number of human activities like hunting for their meat and eggs, pollution, demolition of natural habitats like mangrove forests, coral reefs, nesting beaches etc, a number of marine turtle species are now considered as threatened.

There are seven marine-turtle species known so far among which six are found in Australia.

The following are the different species of marine turtles.

Caretta caretta (Loggerhead turtle)

55-95 cm long and weigh around 55 kg.
Vertebral/coastal scutes in pairs
3 pairs of infra-marginal scutes
Large head with strong jaws
Front-flippers with two claws
Males have thicker, longer tails and narrower shells

Chelonia mydas Green sea-turtle (name derived from their green colored fat)

Length- 80-120 cm and weight- 130-250 kg
Adults- brown, hatchlings- almost black
Coastal scutes-2pairs
2 scales on the fore-head
Single claw on each fore-flipper
Strong jagged jaws

Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback turtle)

Largest sea turtles
Dark blue to black, with pink or white patches
120-210cm long
May weigh up to 900kg  
Skin smooth and leathery with numerous tiny bones embedded in it
7 elevated ridges on the shell-surface
Claws absent
Serrated jaws
Can withstand a wider range of temperature

Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill turtle)

Greenish-brown to dark
55-95 cm long and 55kg weight
Narrow jaws with overhanging and curved upper beak
Scutes overlapping
2 claws on each of the fore-flippers
Concave plastron in males, tail longer and thicker, bigger claws

Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive Ridley turtle) 

Grayish-brown Hatchlings and olive green adults 
Smallest sea-turtles (50-70cm long and around 50 kg in weight)
Shell almost round with 6 to 9 lateral scutes
Claws (1-2) grow on flippers 

Natator depressus (Flatback turtle)

Olive grey colored turtles
Grow up to 97 cm in length and 84 kgs weight
Flat and round shells
Shell margins folded and covered by thin, non-overlapping waxy scutes

Lepidochelys kempii (Kemp’s Ridley)

Gray to light olive green
Size: 70 cm in length and weight 45 kg
Five lateral scutes
Claws present on the claws

Chelonia agassizi (Black turtle)  

Grayish black with black markings 
Length- 117cm and weight up to 126 kg
Jaws- jagged
Single claw on each front-flipper

For more information about turtles please visit: Turtle Species.

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