Sea Turtle Q&A: Answers To Your Most Burning Questions

We're approaching that time of year againsea turtle nesting season! It runs from mid-May through August here in Topsail Island, North Carolina. How much do you REALLY know about sea turtles? Why not test your knowledge by giving our Sea Turtle Trivia Q&A a try? How many questions do you think you'll get right?

Ready, set, go! (Take your time, no pressurethis isn't a timed test...)

Q1: What are the three main differences that distinguish sea turtles from land turtles?

A1: Sea turtles have paddle-like flippers, cannot fully retract into their shells, and spend most of their time in the water (except when nesting).

Q2: How many sea turtles species are there worldwide?

A2: Seven: Kemp's ridley, Olive ridley, green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, and flatback (Australia only).

Q3: What is the largest sea turtle species? What is the smallest?

A3: Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtle species, as well as the largest turtles on Earth. They can reach 7-feet in length and up to 2,000 pounds. That's a lot of sea turtle! The smallest sea turtle is the Kemp's ridley. They're usually only 24-28 inches long and weigh up to 130 pounds.

Q4: Which sea turtle species is the most endangered?

A4: Kemp's ridley. The survival of this species hangs in the balance (there's only estimated to be 7-8,000 female nesters left) making it the world's most endangered sea turtle species. Why? Overharvesting of the eggs in the last century and turtles becoming caught in shrimping trawlers unintentionally causing them to drown.

Q5: Sea turtles have two parts to their shell (the upper and lower portions). Do you know the name for each?

A5: The upper dorsal part of the shell is called the carapace; the lower ventral part of the shell is called the plastron.

Q6: What do you call a group of eggs that sea turtles lay at one time?

A6: A group of sea turtle eggs is called a clutch.

Q7: What poses one of the most serious threats to hatchling sea turtles? (Hint: it's not a predator; though those are threats, too.)

A7: Artificial light. After emerging, sea turtle hatchlings instinctively head toward the bright natural light reflected off of the ocean water. Artificial light sources can lead them astray and off course. Strays have an increased chance of being caught by predators or led to unsafe territory like parking lots and roads.

Q8: What are natural "tortoiseshell" jewelry and accessories made from?

A8: The shell of a hawksbill sea turtle. Sadly, the beauty of the hawksbill sea turtle's shell has garnered unwanted attention. For years this species has been sought after and killed so the beautiful shell with its unique markings can be used in jewelry, eye glass frames, hair accessories and the like.

Q9: True or False: Sea turtles return to the same nesting beach from which they hatched.

A9: Tis' true. That's pretty amazing, isn't it? What a journey!

Q10: True or False: Sea turtles do not need to come up to the ocean's surface for air.

A10: False. Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles and can drown if underwater too long. The length of time they can stay underwater depends on the type of species, as well as environmental and physiological factors.

Well, how did you do? Check out our scoring scale below!

10 correct: 100%
You are a sea turtle expert. Bravo, expert level is impressive! Be sure to share your knowledge with others.

9 correct: 90%
You are a sea turtle aficionado. Not too shabby! Hey, we all make mistakes once in awhile. You did really well overall.

8 correct: 80%
You're a sea turtle enthusiast. That's a good place to start! You just need to brush up on your skills a bit. Keep reading more about sea turtles and expanding your knowledge.

7 correct or less: 70% or below
You're a sea turtle novice. That's okay! Study up on your sea turtle trivia here and you'll be dazzling others with your sea turtle expertise in no time.

If you're vacationing on Topsail Island, be sure to check out the Karen Beasely Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to get up close and personal with some of our favorite flippered friends! Click here to find out more!

Before we go, here are some other things you can do to help protect our local sea turtles:
  • Cover up or fill in any holes you dig in the sand to avoid hatchlings getting stuck in them.
  • Properly discard of plastic bag, six-pack plastic rings, and netting that can be fatal to sea turtles.

Well, there you have it. We hope you have learned a thing or two about sea turtles and are willing to share your new found knowledge with your family and friends. Give them a chance to answer the questions and see how they do. Thanks for playing along!

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