Florida Sea Turtles
Mating & Migration
Do Sea Turtles
To Their Birthplace?
Sea turtle mating may take place on the ocean bottom, the surface or in
open water. Mating occurs about 30 days before the
females begin nesting. The early season matings will fertilize an entire
a common assumption that sea turtles nest on the same
beach where they were hatched. This is not a known certainty
since it's impossible to track a turtle from the time it hatches until
it returns to nest. (See Nesting Sea Turtle Photos)
Has this sea turtle really returned to the
beach it left as a hatchling?
once a turtle begins to use a specific beach for nesting,
she does appear to return to the same beach season
Since turtles often winter hundreds of miles from their nesting
beaches, it is a mystery how they find their way back year after year.
they follow a special taste or smell that is unique
to each region of the ocean or coastline, or they may navigate by the
earth's magnetic fields. It's likely sea turtles employ
a combination of senses to form their natural guidance
common misconception is that females tend to deposit
their eggs around the time of the full moon. The theory
is that the full moon creates a higher tide, which in turns will better
hide the nesting trails.
logic, but it doesn't appear to be true. Turtles nest during all
phases of the moon, with cycles of 10 to about 17 days between
Turtle eggs incubate for about 60 days. The hatchlings normally
break out of the nest at night. The daytime heat could be fatal to hatchlings,
especially if they did not find the sea immediately. The cool of the
night is safer, plus the cover of darkness foils many
Life is a precarious for hatchlings since their small size
makes them easy prey for birds and fish. They seem to recognize this
since they totally disappear their first year of life.
Scientists cannot agree where the hatchlings go until they reach eight to 10 inches in
length. Leatherbacks and ridleys are rarely seen until they mature.
To Page 4, Endangered Sea Turtles
To Where to See Nesting Sea Turtles
To Sea Turtle Homepage
To Florida Animals & Wildlife Home