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June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day

Celebrate World Sea Turtle Day and learn more about the seven species of sea turtles and conservation efforts worldwide.

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Every year on June 16th, the world comes together to celebrate sea turtles. There’s no questioning why a day is needed to honor these essential marine reptiles, but what of this specific date? As it turns out, the father of sea turtle biology, Dr. Archie Carr’s birthday is June 16th. During Carr’s lifetime, he founded the Sea Turtle Conservancy. His research and teaching of the life cycle of sea turtles were paramount to future conservation efforts that have continued on to this day. Learn more about Dr. Archie Carr, here.

Photo by Dustin Haney

A Keystone Species

It goes without being said that the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures’ populations should be recognized not only on World Sea Turtle Day, but all year long. To that point, coastal communities around the globe advocate for their local species in as many ways as they can. For example, Hilton Head Island has groups such as the Turtle Patrol and Turtle Trackers, along with other scheduled fundraisers and events that allow local groups and charities to advocate for these special summertime visitors, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

Species of Sea Turtles

Loggerheads are only one out of seven species of sea turtle. World Wildlife Foundation reports that most of the species are vulnerable or endangered, while the Leatherback and Hawksbill are considered critically endangered. In addition to Loggerheads, there have been instances of Leatherback, Green, and Kemp’s Ridley nests reported on Hilton Head, but these are rare to find. Read on to learn more about the different species of sea turtles.

Loggerhead

Caretta Caretta

Found in Tropical & Subtropical Oceans

Average Weight: 250 lbs.

Females will return to their “natal” beach, or the beach where they were born, to lay clutches of eggs.

Loggerhead | Photo by Tessa Wilson

Kemp’s Ridley

Lepidochelys Kempii

Found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coastline up to Nova Scotia

Weight: 75-100 lbs.

The only species that nests during the day.

Olive Ridley

Lepidochelys Olivacea

Found in tropical areas of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Weight: 75-100 lbs.

Nesting coincides with the weather and tides.

Leatherback

Dermochelys Coriacea

Found worldwide and reach as far as the Article Circle and beyond New Zealand.

Weight: 500-2,000 lbs.

This species is the oldest of all sea turtles, at more than 150 million years old.

Green

Chelonia Mydas

Found in Tropical and Subtropical Oceans.

Average Weight: 500 lbs.

Females nest on open beaches and lay an average of 115 eggs at a time.

Hawksbill

Eretmochelys Imbricata

Found in Subtropical Oceans, but not in the Mediterranean.

Weight: 100-200 lbs.

Having the most colorful shells, this species feed mostly on sponges.

Flatback

Natator Depressus

Found only in Northern Australia, the Indonesian archipelago, and the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Average Weight: 200 lbs.

This species stays in pretty shallow waters.

How can you help?

The Hilton Head community encourages visitors to learn more about how to help the sea turtle population and ensure that the nesting season goes as well as possible. There are easy ways to help that will only take seconds to do, so click the link below to learn more!

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