Sea Turtle Facts

What are the differences between the five sea turtles that we can see in our local waters?

Leatherback

  • Named for smooth, rubbery shell
  • Feed on jellyfish
  • Weigh 700 - 1500 pounds and are 4 - 8 feet in length
  • Nest in Florida March - July
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Loggerhead

  • Named for large head
  • Feed on crabs, mollusks, encrusting animals attached to reefs and rocks
  • Weigh 200 - 400 pounds and are approximately 3 feet
  • Nest in Florida April - Sept
Howard

Green

  • Named for greenish color of body fat
  • Feeds on seagrass & seaweed
  • Females weigh up to 600 pounds and are 3 - 4 feet in length
  • Nest in Florida May - September
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Hawksbill

  • Named for hawk-like beak
  • Feed on sponges
  • Weigh 100 - 150 pounds and are 25 - 35 inches in length
  • Very few, if any, nest in Palm Beach County
  • Primary nesting beaches in the Caribbean, very few, if any, nest in Palm Beach County
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Kemp's ridley

  • Smallest & most endangered
  • Nest in large aggregations (arribadas) during the daylight
  • Feed on blue crabs, clams, mussels, fish and jellyfish
  • Weigh 85 - 100 pounds and are 24 - 30 inches in length
  • Do not nest in Florida, mostly nest on 20-mile stretch in western Gulf of Mexico
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How do sea turtle patients arrive at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center for rehabilitation?
LMC is one of 12 sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in the State.  Patients are transported to the LMC under the direction of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

How many turtles do you rehabilitate a year?
On average 50-60 juvenile through adult sea turtles and over 1,000 hatchlings are cared for at LMC each year.  Unfortunately, not all patients can be successfully rehabilitated.

What are sea turtles’ biggest predators?
The eggs of sea turtles can be a meal for foxes, raccoons, crabs, and other small carnivores. Many human cultures throughout the tropics of the world also consume sea turtle eggs as a source of protein and/or for cultural ceremony (now illegal in the U.S.). As hatchlings, their predators include birds, small land animals, insects, and fish. As adults, their biggest predators are humans. Humans commercially harvest sea turtles for their meat, flippers and shells. Many sea turtles die from commercial fishing techniques, and ever-developing coastlines disrupt reproductive processes.

How many hatchlings reach adulthood?
It is not known. However, many years of research have lead experts to predict that approximately 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 eggs produce hatchlings that reach adulthood.

How old do sea turtles get?
It is not known. However, it is widely believed that they can reach at least 80 –100 years old.

When is official sea turtle nesting season?
March 1st through October 31st in Palm Beach County.

How long can sea turtles hold their breath?
It varies widely. The rate at which sea turtles utilize the oxygen they take with them underwater determines how frequently they must surface for air. Research has shown that dive durations of 15 to 30 minutes are common.

What types of sea turtles nest on Juno and Jupiter Beach?
Leatherbacks, loggerheads and greens. However, one may see Kemps Ridley and Hawksbill turtles swimming off our coast, but they rarely nest on our local beaches.

Are turtle nests protected on the beach?
They are protected by State and Federal law. However, only a fraction of the total number of nests on our beach are marked in any fashion. The vast majority are left to incubate naturally, without further protection.

Do beach goers harm turtle nests?
No, sea turtles bury their nests deep enough to be unaffected by routine beach activity.

How many eggs are there per nest?
There are approximately 100 eggs per nest, with an average 60 day incubation period.

What happens to the sea turtle eggs if they are exposed?
If the eggs are not hatched, rotation and exposure to the elements often cause the eggs to stop developing. Beach erosion commonly exposes turtle nests, which is an unfortunate but natural process.

Why do we have to turn lights off along the beach for the turtles?

Adult females avoid lighted beaches for nesting, and emerging hatchlings often become disoriented by beachfront lighting as they try to reach the ocean.

What beaches do you patrol for sea turtle nests?

The LMC's Research Staff patrol 9.5 miles of beach between John D. MacArthur State Park and the Palm Beach/Martin County line.

Why can’t we touch the turtles that reside at the Center?

For several reasons: the turtles are here because they are ill or injured, human contact can be an unnecessary source of stress; there may be unwanted bacterial exchange between humans and turtles; and… they bite!