46 Sea Turtle Facts for Kids That May Surprise You

Find out more about one of the world's oldest creatures by checking out these fun facts about sea turtles!

Updated January 29, 2024
Green sea turtle habitat

Sea turtle facts for kids can reveal a lot about these fascinating creatures of the deep! For instance, did you know that some sea turtle species take up to 40 years to become an adult? For those looking to learn more about the solitary, challenging, and intriguing life of a sea turtle, we have a solid shell-ection of fun facts about sea turtles for you to explore.

Sea Turtle Facts for Kids: General Stats 

While each species of sea turtle looks a little different in color and size, there are some characteristics that they all have in common. We take a look at these commonalities as well as some impressive sea turtle records!

  • Sea turtles have been on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs.
  • There are seven species of sea turtle: flatback, green, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback, olive ridley, and Kemp's ridley.
  • Adult sea turtles average between two to six feet long, depending on the species.
  • The smallest sea turtle species is the Kemp's ridley and they typically weigh around 70 to 100 pounds.
  • Unlike land turtles, sea turtles can't tuck their heads or flippers into their shell.
  • Sea turtles have one to two claws on each flipper.
  • Adult male sea turtles have long tails whereas the females have short tails.
  • Leatherbacks are the biggest sea turtle species, so it should come as no surprise that they can swim the fastest, reaching speeds of up to 22mph.
  • Most other sea turtle species only average between 0.9 to 5.8 mph.
Fast Fact

The largest sea turtle on record weighed 2,120 pounds and measured 9 feet 5½ inches long! This was a leatherback sea turtle found on the beach in the United Kingdom back in 1988.

Related: Shell-tastic Turtle Facts & Jokes to Share

Sea Turtle Habitat

As the name implies, sea turtles live in the ocean, but there is a lot to learn about which parts of this large expanse that they call home. These sea turtle facts for kids detail where these reptiles can most frequently be found.

Sea Turtle on the Reef
  • Sea turtles like warmer, tropical waters.
  • They can be found in every ocean across the globe, except the polar seas. 
  • Adult sea turtles spend most of their lives in shallow, coastal waters, only going on beaches to lay eggs.
  • When sea turtles look for food or a mate they can travel thousands of miles through the sea.
  • Most sea turtles live their whole life alone, only interacting with others when it's time to mate.
  • Baby sea turtles sleep floating on the surface of the water with their fins behind their back.
  • Adult sea turtles can sleep on the bottom of the ocean by wedging themselves under rock ledges.
  • To create a nest for eggs, females dig a pit in the sand using their flippers and bodies.

Sea Turtle Diet

Each species of sea turtle lives in a particular area of the ocean and eats a diet based on their unique physical makeup. Check out these fun facts about sea turtle diets!

  • Baby sea turtles are predators who eat fish eggs, mollusks, and jellyfish.
  • The teeth of a green sea turtle look like the edges of a saw to help them rip seagrasses.
  • Green sea turtles are the only species where adults are herbivores, eating algae and sea grasses.
    • This diet gives them their signature color! 
  • Kemp's ridley and loggerhead sea turtles are carnivores who eat mostly crabs.
  • The hawksbill sea turtle's sharp beak allows it to eat mostly sea sponges because it can reach into coral reefs.
  • Jellyfish are the main source of food for flatback, leatherback, and olive ridley sea turtles.

Sea Turtle Life Cycle Facts

The sea turtle life cycle explains why there are so few sea turtles on earth. Watch the perilous journey of baby sea turtles from their nest to the ocean in this educational video.

  • Each female lays 50 to 200 eggs in one nest.
  • After laying her eggs, a female sea turtle feeds for up to a year to get her energy back.
  • Baby sea turtles dig their way out of the nest and rush to the water at night.
  • Females lay their eggs on the same beach where they were born. 
    • This means that they will travel thousands of miles to create their nests.
  • Sea turtles can lay one group of eggs every seven to 15 days up to seven times during nesting season.
  • Feeding, breeding, and nesting are not done in the same locations. Sea turtles travel hundreds or thousands of miles between each location.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Six species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered. This is due to threats like pollution, habitat loss, and poaching, most of which are caused by humans.

Leather back turtle babies are released into the sea
  • Out of approximately 1,000 sea turtle eggs, only one sea turtle will survive to adulthood.
  • Hawksbills, leatherbacks, and Kemp's ridleys are considered critically endangered, which is the highest threat level.
  • Sea turtles help the environment by keeping seagrasses under control and contributing nutrients to the sand when eggshells are left behind in nests.
  • Only about one percent of baby sea turtles survive to the age where they can breed.
  • Sea turtle eggs are used in traditional folk medicine practices in Asia and South America.
  • While human interaction can be harmful, people volunteering with professional organizations to help baby sea turtles hatch and reach the ocean is beneficial for these reptiles.

Related: Ways to Help Wildlife and Conservation Efforts

Fun Facts About Sea Turtles for Kids

  • Leatherbacks are the largest and fastest sea turtles on earth and the only ones without scales.
  • Sea turtles can drown. While they can hold their breath for hours at a time, they breathe underwater like fish.  
  • If you see a sea turtle on land, it might look like it's crying, but in actuality, it's expressing the excess salt it takes in while it eats. 
  • A group of sea turtles is called a flotilla or a bale.
  • A cluster of sea turtle eggs is called a clutch.
  • Green turtles take the longest to reach sexual maturity — 20 to 40 years.
  • Leatherbacks mature the fastest, reaching adulthood around the age of 12. 

Resources to Learn More Interesting Sea Turtle Facts for Kids

If you want to learn more about sea turtles and how to help them escape extinction, look for movies, books, and games. Parents can even help you find volunteer opportunities near you or on your next vacation.

Sea Turtle Movies

Animated films with interwoven facts are great at keeping younger kids' attention and providing an educational experience to remember. Older kids will appreciate the realistic images and stories presented in documentary films. Here are a few options:

  • Turtle: The Incredible Journey is a documentary film about the journey from birth to breeding for one loggerhead sea turtle.
  • The fictional film Finding Nemo features tons of sea creatures including scenes riding the Gulf Stream with a sea turtle named Crush and his son, Squirt. Although the story is made up, the film uses factual information about sea creatures.
  • A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures follows the animated journey of a sea turtle from birth. The film includes real information about the life cycle of a sea turtle.

Sea Turtle Books

The best way to find out everything you can about a particular animal is to read as many books as possible. Each of these books offers a unique angle on sea turtle life.

  • I'll Follow the Moon, by Stephanie Lisa Tara, is a children's picture book based on the real journey of baby sea turtles. This fictional story follows a baby sea turtle as it uses its instincts to find its mom.
  • Learn about the life cycle of loggerhead sea turtles in One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies. This story uses lyrical language to tell a nonfiction story.
  • National Geographic sells a full-color nonfiction book called Sea Turtles by Laura Marsh. This gives an up-close look at these interesting reptiles' life, habitat, and physical attributes.

Games & Activities About Sea Turtles

Show off your love of sea turtles with fun activities and crafts you can hang around the house. Better yet, become a citizen scientist and get involved with keeping these creatures protected!

Learning Sea Turtle Facts Can Help to Save These Animals

Fun facts about sea turtles are not only interesting — they can also help you to be conscious about your actions and their impact on the animals of this world. When you understand what is important to the livelihood of a sea turtle, you can find ways to get involved or help others appreciate these animals.

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46 Sea Turtle Facts for Kids That May Surprise You