Endangered Animal Species: Part-4, sea turtle

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Endangered Animal Species: Part-4, sea turtle

The Caretta caretta sea turtle is one of the endangered specimens, classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Unfortunately, turtles mistake the plastic floating in the ocean for food, which leads to their death. They also lose their habitat due to the mass construction of large hotels in the front row on the sea, where they should lay their eggs.

Furthermore, according to WWF estimates, every year about 150 thousand sea turtles end up caught in fishing gear in the Mediterranean and of these over 40,000 die. It has a brown-red carapace, streaked with dark in the young specimens, and a yellowish heart-shaped plastron, often with large orange spots, with two prefrontal plates and a very robust horny beak.

The dorsal shield of the carapace has five pairs of costal scutes; the single front shield carries five plates. Lateral bridge between carapace and plastron with three (rarely 4-7) inframarginal shields in contact with both the marginal shields and those of the plastron.

Young specimens often show a serrated dorsal keel which gives a saw-like back appearance. Males are distinguished from females by the long tail that develops with the achievement of sexual maturity, which occurs around 13 years.

The nails of the forelimbs in the male are also more developed than in the female.
Like all reptiles, they are cold-blooded, which leads them to prefer temperate waters.

Endangered Animal Species: Part-4, sea turtle

They are omnivorous animals: they feed on molluscs, crustaceans, gastropods, echinoderms, fish and jellyfish, but everything has been found in their stomachs: from plastic bags, probably mistaken for jellyfish, to caps and other plastic objects, hooks exchanged for fish, nets and threads mistaken for algae.

Mating takes place in water: the females mate with different males, collecting the seed for the following broods of the season; the male carries himself on the back of the female and clings firmly to her armor, using the hooked nails of the forelimbs, then folds his tail and puts his cloaca in contact with that of the female.

Copulation can last several days. Once mating has taken place, the females wait for a few days in warm and shallow waters for the right moment to lay their eggs; in this they are easily disturbed by the presence of people, animals, noises and lights.

Arrived, with some effort, on the beach they lay up to 200 eggs, the size of ping pong balls, placing them in deep holes, dug with their hind legs. Then they cover them with care, to guarantee a constant incubation temperature and to hide their presence from predators.

Once the operation is completed, they return to the sea. It is a ritual that can be repeated several times in the same season, at intervals of 10-20 days. The eggs have an incubation between 42 and 65 days. The species, and its subspecies, preferably reside in deep and warm waters, close to the coasts, of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea as well as the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The greatest concentrations of this animal are found in South Africa, Florida, Australia, Mozambique and Oman. In the Mediterranean Sea it frequents above all the waters of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus but also of Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Israel.

The species is threatened by marine pollution, reduced nesting habitats, collisions with boats, and accidents caused by trawl nets and other fishing systems. The species is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.