Flatback Sea Turtle – Natator depressus

Introduction

As the name implies, the Flatback Sea Turtle has a shell that is very flat on the top. This allows it to move with ease through the water. The shell is brown in color with black specks on it in random patterns. The appendages are thick but short. They are olive to dark green with areas of white on them. They have a small head that is long and pointed at the tip.

Description

This is a very large sea turtle as it can weigh almost 200 pounds at maturity. They can also be up to 39 inches in length. They have a soft shell that is going to offer them protection from various types of predators. Being able to carry their home on their back is certainly an advantage. The can blend in very well to their surroundings and that is part of their longevity in the wild.

Distribution

Coastal reef areas are the most common habitat for the Flatback Sea Turtle. They are also found along the grassy shorelines. Indonesia, Australia, and New Guinea are the locations where you will find them.

Behavior

The Flatback Sea Turtle seems to live a very isolated and often boring existence. There isn’t too much in terms of behavior about them that is anything but basics of survival. They are very enduring though and can cover long distances in the water per day. They can also live up to 100 years or more in the wild. It is often hard to figure out just how old one of them is.

However, many experts believe that there is still a great deal to be learned about the Flatback Sea Turtle. Yet the fact that they spend so much of their lives in the water makes it very hard to accurately observe them on a regular basis. In fact, it is the least studied of all turtle species in the world.

Amazing facts about Flatback Sea Turtle

Flatback Sea Turtle – Natator depressus/ Author: Alan Riverstone McCulloch

Diet /Feeding

There are plenty of food choices in the water for the Flatback Sea Turtle. Some of their common options include jellyfish, mollusks, seaweed, and various invertebrates that can vary by location. They consume food at a slow pace so while they don’t eat very much daily it can take them substantial amounts of time to do it.

Reproduction

The Flatback Sea Turtle may nest up to 4 times per season. Each clutch of eggs will have up to 50 in it. They will have about 12 to 18 days between laying of clutches. They will lay the eggs on land where they will cover them with sand. Their eggs are up to twice as large as those of other types of turtles. They will remain there for up to 55 days. When it is hot temperatures though they may emerge in about 50 days. The young will instinctively know to head for the water.

There is a very high mortality rate for the Flatback Sea Turtle. Crocodiles and other predators are known to dig for the eggs as are various canines. The young that are scrambling to the water can become a fast meal for both of those predators as well as a variety of species of birds.

Conservation

The Flatback Sea Turtle is currently considered to be Vulnerable due to the fact that their habitat continues to be getting smaller and smaller. The biggest threat is that when their nesting areas are consumed by humans then they don’t have a place to put their eggs. Along many beach areas there are fenced off areas so that the turtles can lay their eggs without humans being there to scare them off.