Sea Turtle Anatomy

When you take a look at a species of sea turtle, you will see some things that may not fit right in your mind. However, it is important to understand that the anatomy of sea turtle is fitting for their life in the water. They are clumsy and slow on land, but they spend most of their life in the water. Their anatomy allows them to be able to swim long distances without burning up very much energy. As you learn more about the anatomy of a sea turtle you will agree that there is more to them than meets the eye.

What you also may not realize is that the sea turtle features both an internal and external skeleton. There are very few creatures on this Earth that have both of them in place. The external skeleton is what offers them protection. If you look closely at it you will notice that it is made up of two symmetrical halves. It is also made from bone. The scientific name for a sea turtles shell is plastron. Underneath the shell on the stomach is a layer of fat. This is called the caliper.

Sea turtle characteristics.

Sea Turtle skull.

The internal skeleton helps the sea turtle to maintain its overall shape. It is a way for the muscles of the internal skeleton to fuse to the external skeleton. All sea turtles have flippers that are very large in size. They use the front ones to gracefully move around in the water. They also use them to move around on land, especially the females as they must go to the beach to successfully lay their eggs. It is believed that these flippers are very sensitive to touch.

There are back flippers as well and they help a sea turtle to stay balanced. They also help them to be able to navigate in different directions both on land and in the water. Turtles have very unique eyes as they feature eyelids. The eyes are also where the saltwater they take in during eating is excreted which is why some will argue that sea turtles cry.

Sea turtles have a bone in the middle ear that will send vibrations to their inner ear. They are able to hear very small vibrations in the water. It is believed this part of their body is developed to protect them from prey and to help them locate their own sources of food. Most people assume that sea turtles don’t have ears and that is because they are internal rather than external.

You will notice that different species of sea turtles have different shapes of mouths. None of the sea turtles have teeth. However, many of them have very powerful jaws and pointed beaks. This allows them to easily crush their food so that it doesn’t get away from them.

Sea turtle body size.

Hawksbill sea turtle anatomy.

They have a very good sense of smell and use it to find prey. It is believed that the young also use it to find their way to the water for the first time. You will have a hard time identifying the males and the females from each other. This is because their anatomy is very similar even in size.

One way to tell them apart though is to look at the tails of sea turtles. Females have a very short tail and it won’t be any longer than their back flippers. Males have a much longer tail that will extend past their back legs. Females have a sex organ called the ovipositor where they will develop their eggs. Males contain their sex organs inside of their tails. It isn’t quite known how reproduction takes place for them due to it being in the water, but their anatomy for reproduction is very different from other animals.