About the Caretta-Caretta Turtles

Turtles have existed on our vivacious planet since the time of the dinosaurs, 200 million years ago. Because they are reptiles it’s still unknown whether they appeared first on land or in the sea. (The fossil of a sea turtle 3.5 meters long was found and given the name of Archelon Ischyros. It is believed that it lived 180 million years ago.) Caretta-Caretta turtles have scales on their skin, use their lungs to breathe and are cold blooded.

 

Turtles hold a prominent place in the mythologies of different cultures. One of the first Greek coins dating from the 5th century B.C. bears the image of the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta.

 

These turtles reach sexual maturity between the ages of 20-30; and that is when they are ready to return, always to the exact place of their birth. They may nest up to three times in a season. After laying their eggs they swim in the open sea anywhere in the Mediterranean, since they carry their home with them and return every second or third year to lay eggs again. Each turtle lays 80-120 eggs at a time, a yearly average of 300-400 eggs for each turtle. It takes them two months to 65 days to incubate and as soon as they hatch they dig through the sand to reach the surface. That might take 2-3 days to achieve, but there is enough oxygen in the sand to keep them alive. About 30% of the hatchlings don’t make it to the water and out of those that do one or two in a thousand live to reach maturity. As soon as they reach the water they swim, non-stop, for a few days until they are carried by currents to deeper waters where they find patches of seaweed and hide from their predators until they grow bigger and feed on plantation.

 

Mature turtles feed on crabs, lobsters, starfish, shells, jellyfish, fish and even octopus. They usually surface for air every five to fifteen minutes if they are on the move, but they can stay up to eight hours if they are relaxing or sleeping. The male has a much longer tail than the female, it is about 30cm long, has bigger fins and big hooked nails on the fins which help it to grab onto the females shell while mating. They are more or less about the same size a meter in diameter, weigh about 100-120 Kilos and live over a hundred years.