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Sea Turtle Habitat Information

    Green Sea Turtle

    • Green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, are found in tropical and subtropical water, inhabiting coastal areas of more than 140 countries. In the United States the green turtle most often lives in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, and has been seen in waters from Massachusetts to Texas. Important feeding areas include Florida, the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. Adult females migrate, often traveling thousands of miles to nesting sites in Costa Rica, Florida, Australia and Hawaii. Sea grass beds are an important habitat for green turtles, as adults are almost exclusively herbivores, feeding on the sea grass and algae.

    Hawksbill Sea Turtle

    • The hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata, occurs in tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Hawksbills frequent reefs and rocky areas, shallow coastal areas, lagoons and narrow creeks and passes. They seldom venture into water deeper than 65 feet. The hawksbill's most important nesting sites are in Seychelles, Mexico, Indonesia and Australia.

    Leatherback Sea Turtle

    • Dermochelys coriacea, the leatherback, is capable of tolerating a wide range of water temperatures. The leatherback inhabits the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and has been sighted along the entire continental coast of the United States, north to the Gulf of Maine and south to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. These deep-sea turtles eat jellyfish as a major food source, and nesting females migrate from tropical water to cooler seas in search of jellyfish in the summer.

    Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

    • Lepidochelys kempii is the smallest and rarest sea turtle in the world. Its range includes the Gulf coasts of Mexico and the United States, as well as the Atlantic coast of North America to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Kemp's ridleys nest primarily in one location: Rancho Neuvo in Tamaulipas in Mexico. In recent years, smaller nesting sites have been established in Texas at Padre Island, and a few nests have been reported at nearby Mustang Island. The major habitat for Kemp's ridleys is the coastal waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico, especially Louisiana. Kemp's ridleys are often found in salt marshes.

    Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

    • Lepidochelys olivacea, the olive ridley, is found in the warm waters of the Pacific, southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They are most often seen in open ocean, says National Geographic, migrating great distances to nest on tropical and subtropical beaches. The olive ridley does not nest in the United States. Its major nesting sites are in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, eastern India and Sri Lanka.

    Loggerhead Sea Turtle

    • The loggerhead, Caretta caretta, is found in the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Argentina, the Pacific from Alaska to Chile and the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. The loggerhead may inhabit both temperate and tropical water. According the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, post-hatchling loggerheads stay in areas where surface waters converge, as these spots have plenty of seaweed in which they hide. This is common between the Gulf Stream and the southeast U.S. coast, and between the Loop Current and Florida's Gulf Coast. Between the ages of 7 and 12 years, adults migrate to nearshore coastal areas. Major nesting sites in the United States are from North Carolina to southwest Florida.

    Flatback Sea Turtle

    • Natator depressus, the flatback or Australian flatback, is found only in Pacific waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea. The flatback prefers bays, coastal reefs, turbid inshore waters and grassy shallows.

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