Credit: Tam Minton

Sea Turtle Habitat

Throughout time humans have caused the degradation of sea turtle habitat. Pollution of the seas and nesting shores, humans have greatly contributed to the decline in numbers of marine turtles. Even the bright light along a nesting sight degrades the habitat, because the hatchlings follow these bright lights, instead of the moonlight and never make it into the ocean where they grow and mature. Just as there are many different types of sea turtles, there are varied types of preferred sea turtle habitat.

Warm, tropical waters are the preferred habitat but they are found in all temperate and tropical ocean waters. Green turtles stay primarily near coastlines , in bays and around islands. They are rarely seen within the open sea. Areas rich in seagrass and vegetation are also more likely to attract greens as they are herbivores who eat plants. Coral reefs are a green sea turtle habitat as well.

Shallow, coastal waters, lagoons and bays are the most common habitat of sea turtle species, although some do venture out into the open seas- like the olive ridley sea turtle. Coral reefs are a common habitat for many types of marine turtles. Habitat changes with life cycle, as the hatchlings of most species live within open waters rich in floating sea vegetation while nesting habitat consists of warm sandy shores and mating generally occurs in a habitat off the nesting area along the waters off shore. So with changes of their life-cycle also occur changes in habitat of sea turtle.

Leatherback sea turtle habitat is the most varied, as it is the most migratory of all sea turtles. The leatherback is widely distributed throughout the world- within the tropical to temperate watres of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Although found as far south as Australia- they are also to be found as far north as British Columbia. Their large size enables them to maintain their core body temperature and allows them to endure cooler waters than other species. Nesting occurs largely along the South American and West African coasts- making both integral leatherback turtle habitat.

Loggerhead sea turtle habitat is also varied, although they are less adept at tolerating cooler seas. They can be found in the open sea -and in the shallow inshore areas like bays and lagoons. Often loggerheads are found among ship wrecks, which are used as feeding areas. Loggerheads are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Nesting occurs primarily in the U.S. From North Carolina to Florida, however, nesting also occurs in Mexico, Greece,Italy , and South Africa. Loggerhead sea turtle habitat has been jeopardized by development and pollution like that of other marine turtles.

Reef areas and rocky, hard-bottomed lagoons and shoals are the preferred hawksbill sea turtle habitat due to the plentiful sponge population. Hawksbills stay in more shallow areas- with water not exceeding 60 feet. They also stay within the tropic regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans- although rare sightings have been reported as far north as New England. Hawksbills are found throughout the Caribbean, and also in Mexico. Female hawksbills nest on rocky shores ich in vegetation which is an important hawksbill sea turtle habitat.

Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean