Critters of the Chesapeake Bay Sea Turtles SEA TURTLES Between 5,000 and 10,000 sea turtles enter the Chesapeake Bay each spring or summer. SEA TURTLES Most of these are loggerheads or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that are using the bay as a feeding ground. SEA TURTLES
Between 5,000 and 10,000 sea turtles enter the Chesapeake Bay each spring or summer.
Most of these are loggerheads or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that are using the bay as a feeding ground.
The green and the leatherback sea turtles are also found in Virginia waters and even one stranded hawksbill has been reported.
Scientists usually recognize seven different species of sea turtles.
Today, we’ll just look at the five found in our area.
Most of the sea turtles we see in Virginia’s waters are loggerheads.
Female loggerheads even nest in Virginia in the less populated beaches like those of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Adult loggerheads can grow to over 100cm and weigh over 300 pounds.
Loggerheads feed on jellyfish, crabs, mollusks, sponges, and aquatic plants.
Kemp’s ridleys are the most endangered of all sea turtles.
Adult ridley’s are 80-120 pounds and up to 75 cm in length.
Their main nesting site is in Mexico where the females lay about 100 eggs.
They live their first years offshore where they eat small animals and plants they find in mats of floating algae.
As adults, they move into shallow coastal areas where crabs become their preferred food.
The leatherback is the largest turtle and largest living reptile in the world!
Adults can be 2 meters long and weigh almost 900kg (2000 pounds).
It is the only sea turtle that lacks a hard, bony shell or carapace.
The leatherback has a 4cm thick, leathery, oil saturated connective tissue overlaying loose dermal bones.
Female leatherbacks lay about 100 eggs on sandy tropical beaches.
Adult leatherbacks feed on jellyfish and other soft bodied organisms in the open ocean.
Green sea turtles are actually farmed in the tropics.
Green sea turtles are easily distinguished from other sea turtles by the single pair of scales in front of the eyes. Others have two pairs.
Male green sea turtles can be distinguished from the females by their large tail. This is lacking in the females.
Adult green turtles weigh 400+ pounds with the record turtle at 871 pounds.
Green sea turtles
are the only sea turtles that are strictly plant eaters as adults.
Hawksbill turtles are more common in the tropical sea where sponges are the main part of their diet.
This species has extra pressure from humans because of the “tortoiseshell” jewelry industry.
The hawksbill is a medium-small turtle with adults weighing 60-190 pounds.
This turtle can be distinguished from the others by the hooked beak formed by the yellowish jaws.