At present, there are still seven different species of sea turtles living in the world's seas and oceans. Four of them can also be spotted in the waters that wash around the ABC islands. The Fathead Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle, the Leatherback Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle.
In addition, they also lay eggs on the beaches of the islands.
Sea turtles are very well adapted to marine life. A broad and relatively flat carapace, fore and hind legs transformed into strong flippers. The front legs are noticeably larger and longer than the hind legs. The front legs are used for propulsion, the hind legs for steering. They need regular breathing, but at rest, the turtle can stay underwater for a long time. The speed of a sea turtle varies, from 3 to 30 km/h. Most species can travel enormous distances, taking advantage of the Earth's magnetic field and probably the currents of the sea. Sea turtles mainly eat jellyfish, crustaceans and squid, but also sea grass.
It is not certain at what age the sea turtle becomes sexually mature, but it is believed that this only takes place when they are 20 to perhaps 50 years old. The females have control over the mating process, they have to give the males permission to mate. Mating takes place in the water.
When the female starts laying eggs, she climbs on the beach above the tide line and digs a burrow that will serve as a nest. She then lays between 100 and 200 eggs and buries them again before returning to the water. The females sometimes mate again and then return to make a second nest. Some females make up to 5 litters per mating season. Sea turtles usually have to travel great distances to reach their breeding grounds - sometimes they have to swim more than 2600 km. Many turtles return to the same nesting area where they hatched themselves. Females mate every 2 to 4 years, males return every year.
When the turtles come out of the nest, it is a huge swarm of heads, bodies and fins. Thrilling to see. It is important that the animals reach the sea water under their own power. It seems that in their search for the sea they imprint the route in their brains in such a way that they can find it again without hesitation twenty years later.
Once in the sea, there are still many dangers, pelicans and other large sea birds and sea fish. but The youngsters who have managed to survive all enemies in their way (1 in a thousand!) and become adults have few natural enemies left. The only exceptions are larger sharks and killer whales. They can reach an age of up to 80 years.
Turtles of the ABC islands
The Leatherback Tortoise has not yet been observed to lay eggs on Bonaire or Curacao, but the beautiful sandy beaches of Aruba are in any case part of their breeding area.
On Curacao, the Karet turtles lay their eggs mainly in Shete Boka, while the green sea turtles nest on Klein Curacao. Loggerheads find a nesting place for their eggs on some beaches on the south coast.
On Aruba the eggs are mainly laid at Eagle Beach and Palm Beach and On Bonaire mainly on Klein Bonaire, the small reef island off the coast with sandy beaches.
Lac Bay is the main foraging area for green sea turtles. Vulnerable seagrass beds grow on the bottom, which are also protected. Seagrass is an important food source for sea turtles. Scientific research has even shown that because of the generous food supply, turtles in Lac Bay grow faster than in other places in the Caribbean.
Swimming with turtles is also possible on the islands. there is a good chance that you will encounter them while snorkeling, but if you want to increase this chance:
Aruba: Tres Trapi next to Molok Bay.
Bonaire: Salt Pier
Curacao: Playa Piskado
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
90 cm (36 in)
The hawksbill turtle can be recognized by the overlapping horn shields on the carapace, and the clearly hooked, parrot-like beak. The turtle is found worldwide around the equator and is a typical inhabitant of rocky coasts and shallow waters. The adult females only come ashore to lay eggs. On the menu are mainly sponges, but other sea creatures and sea plants are also eaten.
The males can be distinguished from the females because they remain slightly smaller but have a thicker and longer tail. Males also have longer and larger forelimbs that are more curved than those of the females. They also have a clearer pattern on the carapace and the ventral carapace of males is slightly concave, which in turtles allows them to better climb on a female during mating.
150 cm (5 ft)
Green sea turtles (they're also called soup turtles, but I don`t like that name) dive to eat algae and seaweed. When they surface, they can blow out the used air into their lungs and replace it with fresh air in seconds. Their oxygen exchange system is adapted to withstand the high water pressure without developing decompression sickness.
Green sea turtles swim about 1.5 km per hour. They can accelerate up to 30 km per hour when trying to evade enemies.
100 cm (3 ft)
The Loggerhead Turtle or Fathead Turtle Is one of the largest species of sea turtles and can be recognized by the reddish-brown carapace and the large and broad head with powerful jaws.
The loggerhead turtle is one of the most widespread sea turtles in the world. The turtle travels vast distances to travel from feeding grounds to egg deposits, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This species is not as strongly bound to warm water as other sea turtles. The habitat consists of coastal areas with shallow waters such as bays. The species can also be found in muddy waters.
It is one of the few sea turtles that lives mainly on meat and has no real food specialization. Especially cnidarians and fish are eaten.
Leatherback sea turtle
250 cm (8 ft)
This is the largest Sea turtle in the world. It distinguishes itself from all other sea turtles by the deviating way of life and size, but especially because the carapace has no visible horn plates. It is the only "reptile" that lives almost entirely on jellyfish, which are very poor in nutrients. The appearance is characteristic because the horn shields characteristic of turtles are missing on the carapace. It lives in the open sea and is rarely seen in coastal zones.
The tortoise is very solitary and is only seen in the open sea when migrating from
The leatherback turtle migrates many times during its life from tropical and subtropical areas to relatively cold, deep waters above Norway. The tropical areas are visited to lay the eggs, in the colder waters live more jellyfish, the favorite food. Because the cool foraging areas and the tropical breeding waters are far from each other, the leatherback turtle leads a permanent swimming existence, covering enormous distances.