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The general consensus of opinion among scientists is that there are at least seven species of sea turtles. They are the Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill, the Leatherback, the Loggerhead, the Atlantic Ridley, the Pacific Ridley and  the Flatback. There are seven species of marine turtles, six of these are found in the northern hemisphere. Only the Flatback is restricted to the southern hemisphere. An eighth species, called the Black Turtle  is recognized by some authorities as a subspecies of the Green Sea Turtle.

NOAAThe Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas),named for the color of the fat under their skin (their shell is not necessarily green at all), is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world, weighing over 300 pounds and measuring three to four feet. They are primarily vegetarians, feeding mostly on sea grasses and algae. They nest on beaches all over the world in many tropical areas Unfortunately, they are often poached for their meat and shells. Once, there were several million green sea turtles; however, it is estimated that only 200,000 nesting females are alive today. Sadly, they are listed as endangered species, and in some areas such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, exploitation has led to complete extinction.

NOAAThe Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is one of the smallest sea turtles, measuring only up to three feet and weighing usually between 100 and 150 pounds when fully grown. The are omnivorous and will eat almost anything. While some hawksbill turtles stay in one area, other will migrate as far as 2000 miles. Because of their beautiful shells they are also on the endangered list. These colorful shells which have beautiful brown and beige colors and are unfortunately used for everything from cabinets to hand mirrors.

NOAAThe Leatherback Sea Turtle, (Dermochelys coricea)  is the largest living reptile in the world, up to 1800 pounds and an incredible eight feet in length.  Unlike other sea turtles, the leatherback does not have a hard shell and prefers open beaches to nest. They are carnivorous, feeding mostly on jellyfish and some bony fish. Migrations can cover thousands of miles, and each year  the female returns to lay her clutch of eggs on the very same beach where she was born. Research indicates that these turtles use the earth's magnetic fields to navigate. Leatherbacks have the widest range of any marine turtle and they are the only reptile known to be active in temperatures as low as forty degrees F. They are on the critically endangered list.                                                           

NOAALoggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta caretta) are carnivorous and named for their large heads, feeding on a variety of shellfish, sponges, jellyfish, shrimp and a variety of bony fish.. Fishermen named them loggerheads when they would see these turtles bobbing at the surface of the ocean, looking like floating logs. They are a large turtle and adult can weigh up to 350 pounds and measure over three feet in length.
 

NOAAThe Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempi), also known as Kemp's Ridley, is carnivorous and feeds primarily on marine invertebrates. It is one of the smallest species of marine turtles (twenty-eight inches long and up to only 110 pounds)  and also one of the rarest, nesting only on one beach in Mexico -Rancho Nuevo. Other beaches were used in the past but aggressive egg collecting has reduced this population to a very low level. All ridley turtles are "mass nesters" where the  females all come ashore together at the same time and nest as a group, usually in one day. Atlantic Ridleys have a distinctive round to heart-shaped shell that ranges in color from gray-brown to olive, even to black. Their range extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Marine Provinces.

NOAAOlive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacae), also known as the Pacific Ridley are omnivorous and this species also has mass nesting, like the Atlantic Ridley but this phenomena tends to occur at night. These can be extraordinarily large, with a nesting of over 500,000 Olive Ridleys reported in a single week in March 1991, at Gahirmatha Orissa, India. It is  the most abundant sea turtle and it's overall color is olive green as the name implies. It is found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and inhabits mainly tropical and subtropical coastal bays and estuaries.

Flatback Sea Turtles (Natator depressus) are very similar to the green turtle, and used to be classified in the same genus (as Chelonia depressa), but now they are in their own genus (Natator). The flatback marine turtles are smaller than green marine turtles as adults, has a distinct low-domed flat carapace and has one of the most limited ranges of all sea turtles. They are endemic to the continental shelf of Australia and although they feed around Papua New Guinea and Indonesia as well as within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, they nest only in northern Australia The beaches where they nest are very remote and  so it is thought that this population may be quite stable, with little influence by humans.

 

LINKS

The links below will take you to some great websites about sea turtles.The best sites to start for general information are marked with a star . If you have a site that you think should be listed, please email me.

Official, Scientific & Governmental Sites
Endangered Species Organizations
Sea Turtle Conservation Groups
Other Countries
Sea Turtle Observation -Tours, Dives Sites & Parks
Sea Turtle Hospitals and Rehabilitation Programs
Commercial Sites
Mass Extinction of Species

OFFICIAL, SCIENTIFIC & GOVERNMENTAL SITES

Euro  Turtle
A superb European based resource website presenting all aspects of sea turtle biology and conservation.

Folly Beach SC Sea Turtle Page
Webpage of a South Carolina community that takes protection of sea turtles seriously..

FWC Marine Turtle Program
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission page on their program to protect endangered marine turtles.

Marine Turtle Newsletter
The Marine Turtle Newsletter is published quarterly (January, April, July, October) and distributed free of charge to over 110 nations and territories. The only periodical of its kind, MTN is a highly acclaimed publication for timely information concerning the biology, conservation, management, legal status and survival prospects of all species of endangered and threatened sea turtles..

National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation
The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation is a non-profit Florida corporation incorporated in the year 1987 for the purpose of preservation of marine life and is concentrating its efforts on endangered species, oceans and waterways.

Sea Turtle, Inc
STI was formed in 1977 to assist in the protection of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, but has expanded its scope to actively support the conservation of all marine turtle species.

Sea Turtle. Org
Seaturtle.org was founded out of a desire to support research and conservation efforts in the sea turtle community. A comprehensive internet resource for sea turtle research and conservation. Large link index of sea turtle related websites.

Sea Turtles of the Southeast Brochure
An Adobe downloadable document. Published by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Sea Turtle Restoration Project
A website dedicated to protecting endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity worldwide.

SOS For Sea Turtles
Kurt Amsler's website for protection of Balinese Sea Turtles and turtles in general

The Archie Carr Center For Sea Turtle Research
Located at the University of Florida

Turtle Trax
A webpage devoted to sea turtles

World Turtle Trust
Hawaiian based website that has as its operating principle hands-on  activism to save sea turtles

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES ORGANZATIONS

ICUN World Conservation Union
The World Conservation Union is the world’s largest and most important conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's foremost intergovernmental environmental organization.

US Fish & Wildlife Webpages on Endangered Species
The American endangered species list maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Word Conservation Union ICUN Red List of Endangered Species

IUCN - The World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) has for four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.


SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION GROUPS

Caretta Research Project -Wassaw Island
Hands on conservation and research program dedicated to protecting the loggerhead turtle.

Folly Beach Turtle Watch Program
Folly Beach, North Carolina


Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Help Endangered Animals -Ridley Turtles
Houston Texas sea turtle restoration project

Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program
Holden Beach, North Carolina

N.E.S.T Network For Endangered Sea Turtles
Outer Banks, North Carolina

Save A Turtle In The Florida Keys

A volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of rare and endangered marine turtles and to the enhancement of their habitats here in the Keys and throughout the world.

Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project
Tybee Island, Georgia Marine Science Center project

OTHER COUNTRIES

BALI   SOS For Sea Turtles
Kurt Amsler's website for protection of Balinese Sea Turtles and turtles in general.

BARBADOS   Barbados Sea Turtle Project

The BSTP is a project of the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus, Barbados) working in collaboration with the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Government of Barbados.

CARIBBEAN REGION  Widecast -Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is an international scientific network comprised of volunteer Country Coordinators (mainly sea turtle experts, natural resource professionals, and community-based conservationists), an international Board of Scientific Advisors, and Partner Organizations in more than 30 Caribbean States and territories.

COOK ISLANDS   Turtle Survey- Cook Islands
Cook Islands in the South Pacific Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation

COSTA RICA Pretoma
Costa Rican program for the restoration of marine turtles.

CYPRUS  Episkopi Turtlewatch
Sea Turtle protective group in Cyprus

ENGLAND  Marine Turtle Research Group
School of Biological Sciences, University of Exeter

INDIA  Visakha SPCA -Sea Turtles
An Indian Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals website.

INDO-PACIFIC REGION  ARBEC Turtle Conservation
Site is dedicated to news on regional turtle conservation efforts.

KENYA  Adopt A Sea Turtle. Com
Watamu Turtle Watch program -a Kenyan marine conservation organization.

PUERTO RICO  Provecto Tinglado -Isla de Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico webpage with information on ways to protect sea turtles.

SEA TURTLE OBSERVATION -TOURS, DIVE SITES & PARKS

Cayman Turtle Farm
Grand Cayman Island's largest land based attraction, and the only one of its kind in the world, Cayman Turtle Farm is home to over 16,000 green sea turtles raised for conservation.

Sea Turtle Hospitals & Rehabilitation Programs

 Cayman Turtle Farm
Grand Cayman Island's largest land based attraction, and the only one of its kind in the world, Cayman Turtle Farm is home to over 16,000 green sea turtles raised for conservation

Hibiscus Sea Turtle Preserve
Located in TAHAA, French Polynesia

Jason Wood's Wildlife Rehab
North Carolina based general wildlife rehabilitation, including sea turtles. 

Karen Beasley Sea Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
Topsail Island, North Carolina

First Aid
Online Directory of Sea Turtle Rescue, Treatment and Rehabilitation Organizations

Sea Turtle, Inc
STI was formed in 1977 to assist in the protection of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, but has expanded its scope to actively support the conservation of all marine turtle species.

The Turtle Hospital
Marathon, Florida

COMMERCIAL SITES

Cayman Turtle Farm
Grand Cayman Island's largest land based attraction, and the only one of its kind in the world, Cayman Turtle Farm is home to over 16,000 green sea turtles raised for conservation.

Sea Turtle Postage Stamps Of The World
Cool sea turtle stamps

MASS EXTINCTION OF SPECIES

 

American Museum of Natural History Statement  

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species

Professor David  Ulansey's Website -Mass Extinction Underway