What Eats Sea Turtles?

A Sea Turtle's Shell Only Goes so Far to Protect Them

Sea Turtle
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Sea turtles have shells to protect them, right? You might be wondering what would eat a sea turtle, as a sea turtle's shell only goes so far to protect them. Unlike land turtles, sea turtles can't withdraw into their shell for protection. So this leaves their head and flippers especially vulnerable to predators. Discover the types of sea animals that prey on sea turtles and how they can protect themselves from predators.

Types of Animals That Prey Upon Them

Animals that prey upon adult sea turtles includes sharks (especially tiger sharks), killer whales and large fish. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable as eggs and hatchlings, and sea turtles often lay their eggs on beaches. Even though their nests may be a couple feet deep in the sand, predators such as coyotes and dogs are savvy and may dig them up.

If the sea turtle eggs do make it to hatching, the tiny hatchlings need to make a mad dash to the ocean, during which they can be attacked by other predators, such as gulls. Unfortunately, more than ninety percent of these hatchlings are known to be destroyed by their predators. In addition to the animals previously mentioned, seabirds, raccoons and ghost crabs are other animals that are known as natural predators against sea turtles. According to Seaworld.org, flatback turtle nests are also susceptible to unique predators such as lizards, dingoes and foxes.

How Sea Turtles Protect Themselves

Luckily, a sea turtle's shell is their best friend. Their hard shell helps protect them from predators when danger is near. Additionally, sea turtles are typically very skilled swimmers who are quick in their natural habitat, the ocean, which helps them get rid of dangerous situations as they come.

The only type of sea turtle that has a soft shell, rather than a hard shell, is the leatherback sea turtle. Because leatherback sea turtles are bigger in size, their risk of danger is considerably low in comparison to other types of sea turtles. Learn more about the trials and tribulations of sea turtle life and how you can help these sea animals.

The Biggest Threat Against Them

According to Sciencing.com, the largest threat to sea turtles is human carelessness, from trash on shorelines to injuries with watercrafts. Sea turtles often swallow trash floating in their environment that results in death by strangulation. Collisions have caused thousands of sea turtles to get caught in fishing nets annually, resulting in their ultimate death by drowning. The fact that sea turtles are unable to protect themselves from human situations as illustrated is but the few reasons why sea turtles are considered an endangered species.

How We Can Help

Thanks to Defenders.org, there are several ways we can help save sea turtles. For example:

  • We can turn out the lights that are visible from the beach. This is because sea turtles use light and reflections to find their way to the water at night, so turning them off will save them from confusion.
  • We can reduce the amount of garbage we produce and clean up any trash found along the beach. This will help prevent sea turtles from getting tangled in plastic and trash on the shoreline and in the ocean.
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Kennedy, Jennifer. "What Eats Sea Turtles?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-eats-sea-turtles-3970963. Kennedy, Jennifer. (2021, February 16). What Eats Sea Turtles? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-eats-sea-turtles-3970963 Kennedy, Jennifer. "What Eats Sea Turtles?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-eats-sea-turtles-3970963 (accessed May 31, 2023).