Sea Turtles in Our Ecosystem

Five species of sea turtles are found in the waters of Florida: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Endangered
Weighs 175-400 pounds
Most common sea turtle in FL
Named for its large head

Green (Chelonia mydas)

Endangered
Weighs 150-400 pounds
Found in tropical & subtropical waters
The only herbivore sea turtle

Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)

Vulnerable
Weighs 600-1500 pounds
Migrate across the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans
Largest & deepest diving of the sea turtles

Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempi)

Critically Endangered
Weighs 75-110 pounds
Found in the Gulf of Mexico
Smallest of the sea turtles

Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Critically Endangered
Weighs 90-150 pounds
Found in tropical and subtropical waters
Named for their narrow, pointed beak

About Sea Turtles

Where they live: Found in abundance from the Treasure Coast to Florida Bay

Size: Leatherback sea turtles are the largest sea turtle and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds with shells up to 10 feet in length. Hawksbill sea turtles are smaller, weighing up to 200 pounds with up to 30-inch long shells. All sea turtles hatch from small eggs on the beach.

Threats: Sea turtle nests on Florida’s beaches are threatened by near-shore artificial light, habitat loss, and pollution, which is why they are monitored and protected in Florida. While natural predators remain a huge threat to sea turtles, man-made environmental problems cause the greatest need for concern.

  • Near-shore artificial light can cause sea turtles to become confused and turn away from the beaches where they intended to lay their eggs. Hatchlings that instinctively follow night sky reflections to the ocean can also be led astray by artificial light sources.

  • Habitat loss affects their ability to find and hunt for food.

  • Contaminant pollution causes water quality threats, such as toxic algae, while object pollution poses choking and entanglement threats to sea turtles.

All five species of sea turtles found in South Florida have been designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

To save the sea turtles, we need to ensure their protection. You can do your part by helping us spread awareness about how to identify and protect sea turtle nests and pledging to protect them.

Pop Quiz

Learning Activities

Sea Turtle Coloring Page
Click here to download and print

Sea Turtle Infographic
Click here to download and print

Sign the Protection Pledge

As a Young Friend of the Everglades, I vow to do my part to save the five species of sea turtles that live in Florida. I understand that clean water is critical to the survival of sea turtles, and I will speak out against pollution. Sea turtles need our help in order to successfully lay eggs on the beach and to make their journey back into the ocean safely during nesting season. I promise not to disturb their nests, and to tell a trusted adult if I see someone else disturbing a nest. I know sea turtle hatchlings instinctively move toward bright lights to make their way to the water, so it’s important to keep artificial light away from them. I pledge to spread awareness about how light pollution negatively affects sea turtle nesting. I am a leader, and I will set a good example for my peers by doing my part to protect sea turtle habitat.

Add Your Name