Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Gooooood morning divers!
This special I wanted to make all about turtles! Especially sea turtles. They are, in my opinion always a great sight to see and never seem to bore me or any of my buddies.
The thing I like about turtles too is that there is always that chance you might spot one. They are not necessarily rare, but so unique and unlike any other aquatic creature in my opinion.
In this Special, I wanted to educate myself, as well as anyone interested in these beautiful creatures, on how we can protect them and keep on admiring them.
I would like to go into the following:
What's so special about Turtles?
What should you do and not do when you encounter a Turtle?
What are the most common turtles to spot?
Where do you have a good chance of spotting Turtles?
What's so special about turtles?
Sea turtles have very much in common with their land bases family but are specialized for swimming.
The front flippers are mainly used to provide the thrust for speed while the back flippers are mostly used for stabilization. The swimming motion is actually very similar to that of a bird, in creating force on the up-and-down stroke.
With this motion, they can swim at speeds of 30 km/h (19 mph).
It's interesting even to compare sea turtles to freshwater turtles as sea turtles can create twice as much force and 6 times as much speed as freshwater turtles, making them very efficient!
Turtles navigate primarily by vision, which is not amazing. But they tend to have a slightly higher "red perception" which makes it easier to see in waters more deeper.
All turtles need to breathe fresh air from time to time. The time they can be under the surface varies per specie between 1 minute and 1 hour. Turtles have multiple lungs, but a shell that is incapable of expanding obviously.
Some turtles can also "breath" through the cloaca, which filters dissolved oxygen from the waters around them. This makes it so they have more bottom time, but they will have to resurface at some point.
Turtles, like other reptiles, have a limited ability to regulate their body temperature. This ability varies between species, and with body size.
Adult Sea turtles can usually somewhat control their body temperature. The head is insulated by fat around the neck and they can keep their temperature about 4 degrees higher than the water around them.
Various species of sea turtles emit short, low-frequency calls from the time they are in the egg to when they are adults. This is thought to be for migration and/ or mating reasons.
The defense of a sea turtle is obviously his shell, first and foremost. However, they can be surprisingly fast and agile underwater. As noted before, 30 km/h is no joke!
Turtles can live long lives. There are some records of land-based turtles dating back 180+ years old. Sea turtles usually reach ages between 50 - 100 years old. Taking 20-30 years to mature.
What should you do, and not do when you encounter a turtle?
Turtles can be highly inquisitive, social, and interested in divers. However, if you visit them in more remote or less frequent diving spots, they might be skittish. It's always a good idea to keep your distance to not hurt them or make them hurt themselves of course. And below I found some general guidelines, which may seem obvious, but nevertheless, important.
So to summarize:
Never touch a Sea turtle.
Don't be afraid of their size. They have never even harmed a human being.
Let them come to you. They can be gentle and curious, and much, much faster than you.
Blow small bubbles to not scare them away.
They tend to swim away if you come too close, follow them if you want, but always keep an eye on your depth and ascending speed!
While night diving, I would recommend bothering them as less as possible, to not scare or stress them out, so they won't hurt themselves.
What are the most common turtles to spot?
The most common turtles to spot are the Green turtle and the Hawksbill turtle.
The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species. Green turtles are named for the greenish color of their cartilage and fat, not their shells. Green turtles are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear, and loss of nesting sites.
Hawksbills are named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a spiney look on the edges. These colored and patterned shells make them highly valuable and commonly sold as "tortoiseshell" in markets.
Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world's tropical oceans, mostly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to eat them from the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish.
Where do you have a good chance of spotting a turtle?
You can find them in Asia, Egypt, and anywhere with warmer waters usually. They tend to feed on sea grass and corals, as well as jellyfish, in more shallow waters, between 5 and 15 meters.
A lot of turtles are highly endangered and should be well taken care of, as well as their nesting beaches and reefs. Turtles are critical to the survival of the reefs!
A few good spots to go diving, and see turtles are:
The next blog will be from Panglao - Bohol. I have visited this beautiful country in 2018, and now it's time to go back and explore all the places I haven't visited the last time.
This will hopefully complete the full Philippines experience and make for amazing stories, photos, and travel tips!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, any questions or tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember:
"If you can breathe, you can dive"
Don't forget to check out the clips I've made below!