What Do Sea Turtles Eat? What Classifies As A Shell-thy Seafood Diet? | Kidadl


What Do Sea Turtles Eat? What Classifies As A Shell-thy Seafood Diet?

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Sea turtles might be one of the most adorable species with their colorful shells and flippers swimming around in the ocean waters, but have you ever wondered what do sea turtles eat?

So what do sea turtles eat? The type of food eaten by a sea turtle varies by species; some are omnivores, consuming a wide variety of animals and plants, whereas hawksbills and leatherbacks are carnivores. Sea turtles may eat seagrasses, algae, sponges, sea squirts, squid, shrimp, crabs, jellyfish, cuttlefish, or sea urchins, depending on the species of sea turtles.

The origins of sea turtles may be traced back to the Late Jurassic almost 150 million years ago with European turtle species such as Plesiochelys. Sea turtles are classified as reptiles since they are cold-blooded, have a three-chambered heart, and have scaly skin. Green sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, Kemp's ridley sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, and flatback sea turtles, are the seven species of sea turtles that exist today.

So what do sea turtles eat? What is considered as a shell-thy diet of these marine reptiles? Let's find out by reading the rest of the article and also understand the need for conservation for these animals and coral reefs. Afterward, do check how long for turtle eggs to hatch and how to hatch turtle eggs.

What is a sea turtle's favorite food?

Sea turtles' diets vary depending on the species. Sea turtles can be carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous. Many animals' jaw anatomy predicts their food. Some animals' feeding habits alter as they mature.

Green sea turtles, for example, are mostly carnivorous from hatchling to juvenile size before transitioning to a herbivorous diet. A green sea turtle has finely serrated jaws that have evolved to accommodate a mainly vegetarian diet of seagrasses, sponges, and algae. Some sea turtle species modify their feeding patterns as they become older. Green sea turtles species, for example, are mostly carnivorous from hatching until they reach the juvenile stage, after which they gradually change to a herbivorous diet. Sponge found near the reef is their major food; however, leatherbacks also eat tunicates, shrimp, and squids sometimes. Their primary food consists of algae, seagrasses, and seaweed, as well as crabs, mollusks, shrimp, jellyfish, and plants.

Why do sea turtles eat plastic?

Although plastic has only been mass-produced since the 40s, it is wreaking havoc on marine turtles. As per research, 52% of the world's turtles have consumed plastic trash. Plastic found on sea beaches is harmful to turtles.

The reasons for eating plastic are straightforward; a floating plastic bag can resemble a huge number of jellyfish, algae, or other organisms that make up a significant portion of sea turtle diets. Scientists, who belong to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, realized that these explanations regarding plastic-eating didn't quite conclude whether turtles are attracted to the way plastic smells or the way that plastic resembles jellyfishes. For the first time, they said they had confirmed this topic; sea turtles do mistake the scent of plastic for food. When a turtle consumes plastic, it is unable to vomit it up. As a result, the majority of the swallowed plastic becomes trapped in the turtle's stomach. The plastic thereby limits its capacity to absorb nutrients as well as digest food.

Do sea turtles eat jellyfish?

Jellyfish are abundant across the seven seas and are known to remain hardy even in the most hostile environments. Jellyfish is an extremely popular food consumed by sea turtles. A turtle consumes a jellyfish by swimming up to it and biting it. If it's a tiny jellyfish, the turtle can consume it in a single bite. However, if it is a larger jellyfish, the turtle will take nibbles until it has consumed the entire thing.

Olive ridleys consume jellyfish because they are omnivores, meaning they consume both animals and plants. As jellyfish float so slowly in the sea, turtles may easily catch them in the wild. Now have you already started wondering how a marine turtle manages to consume a jelly without harming itself? You know how unpleasant it is to get stung by a jellyfish. To defend themselves against sea jelly venom, sea turtles have papillae, which are unique adaptations.

What do different sea turtles eat?

There are several types of sea turtles and the dietary habits of sea turtles vary depending on the type.

Because the fat beneath its shell is green in hue, Chelonia mydas is known as the Green sea turtle. They are herbivores. Other marine creatures, such as worms and insects, are commonly eaten by baby turtles. As this species becomes older, at the age of three, they become herbivores and quit eating meat. Algae, sponges and seagrass are their main sources of food.

Adult leatherbacks are carnivores but their jaws are too weak to chew on hard-bodied prey. They eat soft-bodied creatures such as jellyfish and salps to live.

Loggerhead turtles have powerful jaws and like to devour hard-shelled fish. Horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, clams, conchs, and mussels are some of the favorite foods of loggerhead turtles. They also eat sargassum and seaweed on occasion.

Hawksbills eat a lot of sponges and are mainly found in good coral reef habitats. They can consume food from coral reef crevices because of their beak-shaped jaws. Molluscs, crabs, marine algae, anemones, sea urchins, squid, jellyfish, and shrimp are also among their prey.

Kemp's Ridley Turtle was named after a fisherman called Richard Kemp, who spotted it. Kemp's Ridley turtles eat clams, conchs, jellyfish, mussels, shrimp, shellfish, fish, sea urchins, whelks, squid seaweed, and sargassum. Moreover, they favor shallow waters since they like consuming crabs the most.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle eats jellyfish, snails, lobster, mollusks, crustaceans, tunicates, fish, crabs, and shrimp and is omnivorous with a powerful jaw. It also consumes algae as well as seaweed.

Sea cucumbers, invertebrates, mollusks, jellyfish, prawns, whelks, bryozoans, soft corals, sea grasses, and seaweed are among the foods consumed by the flatback sea turtle. The invertebrates that they eat depend on where they are.

Green sea turtle eating on the reef

Feeding Sea Turtles With Special Needs

Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is a crippling illness that affects sea turtles, causing external tumors that can grow to be so huge and dangling that they interfere with swimming, eyesight, and eating.

Individuals with a high number of tumors may become anemic, have a shortage of proteins and iron, and in more advanced stages, experience acidosis produced by unbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratios along with severe emaciation. So care must be taken regarding their diets.

Food For Rescued Sea Turtles

Whenever sea turtles are rescued, it is critical to understand their natural diets and nutritional requirements in order to enable them to develop and stay healthy.

All through their time in hospital, rescued green sea turtles, who are normally vegetarian in the wild, receive a diet rich in vegetables such as romaine lettuce or even bell peppers. These green sea turtles, on the other hand, require a high-protein diet and may eat capelin and squid in addition to their vegetables. You can occasionally give crickets, mealworms, or feeder fish to rescued sea turtles for protein. A good hunt gives turtles a lot of pleasure. Serve one to two teaspoons of darker, leafy greens like kale, collards, or mustard greens three or four times each week. Within four hours, discard any greens they haven't eaten.

How can we help wild sea turtles?

Sea turtles are an extremely essential component of the ecosystems in the marine world. They assist in the preservation of seagrass beds and coral reefs, and we must be aware of their presence and assist wild sea turtles.

For becoming a more informed and ethical seafood buyer, ensure the source and origin of the seafood you buy. Choose seafood that has not been caught in a way that harms or kills turtles. If you observe a sick or injured sea turtle, contact your local sea turtle stranding network. Participate in the conservation of sea turtles. Actions that benefit sea turtles should be supported. Reduce the amount of marine trash that may entangle or be consumed by sea turtles. Finally, take part in beach clean-ups and minimize your usage of plastic to help keep our beaches and ocean clean as sea turtles and other sea animals can be harmed by trash in the water.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'What do sea turtles eat?' then why not take a look at 'Aquatic turtle habitat', or 'Sea turtle facts'.

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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