See a gallery of Ari’s photos of sea turtles on Cyprus below:
Images courtesy of Ari Daniel Shapiro
Adult loggerhead turtles use their powerful jaws to crack open crabs and even such seemingly impenetrable molluscs as the queen conch (Strombus gigas) and giant clam (Tridacna spp.). You can see a turtle making short work of a mollusc in this video from our content partner, Arkive.org.
Green turtles make an astonishing migration, leaving the waters off the coast of Brazil to swim 2,250 kilometers of the South Atlantic to reach Ascension Island, where they breed. For two hundred years, sailing ships stopping at Ascension Island relied on the turtles for fresh meat.
Do turtles cry? While people have reported nesting loggerheads “crying” for their young, they are actually getting rid of excess excess salt. Loggerheads have special adaptations to life in salt water, including special glands near their eyes, which allow them to drink sea water and excrete the salt.
A sea turtle’s shell, or carapace, is often covered with hitchhikers, species called epibionts (an organism that lives on the surface of another living organism). During their nesting season, turtles visit estuaries. As they rest and feed in these calm, shallow waters, their shells are colonized by up to one hundred different kinds of organisms. Some tiny creatures even colonize the scars left on the carapace by boat propellers. Loggerhead shells boast some of the largest and most diverse communities of epibionts yet discovered, making them a mobile reef. Green turtles host their own gang of hitchhikers.
See a collection of epibionts on EOL:
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Epibionts: http://eol.org/collections/30290
Green Sea Turtle Epibonts: http://eol.org/collections/30293
Six of the seven living species of marine turtle are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered. They face a range of hazards: floating plastic, fishing nets, destruction of their nesting habitat, and boat propellers, just to name a few. Beachgoers disturb nesting females and introduced species prey on their eggs. Turtles even become entangled in beach furniture or disoriented during nesting and hatching by artificial lights. In parts of the world, they are illegally hunted for their shells, meat, and eggs.
The good news is, there are many ways you can help—and help spread the word. Visit one of the organization websites below to learn how.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (Florida, USA)
Sea Turtle Foundation (Australia)
Sea Turtle Conservation Project (Costa Rica)