HONOLULU (KHON2) — June 16 is recognized as World Sea Turtle Day! Animal experts believe sea turtles have been on earth for more than 100 million years.

In Hawaii you will see sea turtles swimming in the ocean or basking in the sun. It’s the law to maintain your distance if you spot a sea turtle swimming next to you because they are protected under Hawaii Revised Statutes.

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In honor or world sea turtle day, here are some fun facts you may not have known. 

1. Green sea turtles are green because of what they eat! Because these sea turtles are primarily herbivores, they eat mostly seagrasses and algae. Their green pallet diet gives their cartilage and fat a green color which is where their name comes from. 

2. A group of sea turtle eggs is called a clutch. Because sea turtles lay their eggs in a nest they dig in the sand with their rear flippers. Sea turtles usually lay 100-125 eggs per nest and will nest multiple times about two-weeks apart over several months. The eggs usually hatch around 2 months and once that happens the hatchlings dig out of their nest. 

3. The sex of the sea turtle is determined by the temperature in the nest. Cooler nesting temperatures produce male hatchlings and warmer nesting temperatures produce female hatchlings! When temperatures fluctuate between warmer and cooler, then a mix of both male and female hatchlings will emerge. 

4. Most sea turtles’ nest at night. However, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are the only sea turtles that routinely nest during the day. 

5. Leatherback sea turtles have existed in their current form since the age of dinosaurs! Leatherbacks are highly migratory with some swimming more than 10,000 miles a year between nesting and foraging grounds. They also hold the deepest record dive reaching 4,000 feet, which is deeper than most marine mammals.

6. Sea turtles do not retract into their shells. Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their flippers and head into their shells. Because they are graceful swimmers in the water, their rear flippers are used as rudders for steering and need to stay put. 

File – Sea Life Park releases a green sea turtle to celebrate Earth Day in Waimānalo, Hawaii, April 22, 2021.

7. Because sea turtles are reptiles, they need to breathe air. But they can remain underwater for hours at a time. Reports show sea turtles even sleep underwater! Most sea turtles spend their entire life at sea and only return to the beach to nest and lay eggs. The only exceptions are green sea turtles in the Pacific Islands who come ashore to bask and sunbathe on the beach. 

NOAA Fisheries devote countless hours maintaining the conservation and recovery of sea turtles. They believe it requires a multilateral cooperation to ensure the survival of these highly migratory species. 

They work to ensure the global conservation and recovery of sea turtles by working closely with other nations by diplomatic channels, capacity building and scientific exchange. 

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For more fun facts or to read more about the conservation efforts for sea turtles near you head to NOAA Fisheries’ website