Ten terrific tidbits and fascinating facts about turtles

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Turtle and Diver - Photo by Mark Long

Turtle and Diver – Photo by Mark Long

Turtles are truly amazing creatures that have populated the earth for millions of years. Whether you dive fresh or salt water, discovering a turtle is a fun and unique experience. Let’s learn a bit more about these aquatic animals with some fun turtle facts.

1. There are approximately 300 species of turtles in the world. The number is not exact because scientists continue to change the classifications.
2. There are seven species of sea turtles in the ocean: flatback, green, hawksbill, kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley.
3. The leatherback is the largest of the sea turtle species and can grow 1.8 meters (6 feet) long and weigh 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds).
4. Kemp’s ridley is the smallest sea turtle species at 60 to 90 centimeters (24 to 35 inches) long, averaging 45 kilograms (99 pounds). Kemp’s ridley turtles are critically endangered and efforts are being made to protect the species from extinction.
5. At room temperature, the western painted turtle can go without oxygen for 30 hours.
6.  At 37 degrees Fahrenheit, the western painted turtle can live for four months without oxygen, such as during hibernation.
7. The sex of many baby turtle species is determined by how warm the eggs are kept. Females are produced by warm temperatures, males are from cooler temps.
8.  Turtles not only see in color, they tend to prefer certain hues. Research shows red, orange and yellow are most appealing.
9. The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle. These turtles, weighing 113 kilograms (250 pounds) or more, lure prey with their tongue that resembles a wiggly worm.
10. Proclaimed the “Laziest Freshwater Turtle” by Guinness World Records, the giant soft-shelled turtle of the Mekong River in Cambodia spends 95 percent of its life motionless in sand.