What do Sea Turtles Eat?

There is quite a bit of difference when it comes to the feeding habits of sea turtles. Some of them will only consume meat while others consume plants. There are a few species where they start off consuming meat when they are young. However, as they mature they change to a diet of only plants. This is why you will notice such a different in the overall jaw structure of the various types of sea turtles.

Green Sea Turtles have jaws that are serrated. The young start out being carnivores but as adults they only consume plant life. When you look at the jaws of both Loggerheads and the two Ridley’s species, you will notice that they are very powerful. This allows them to be able to crush as well as to grind up the meat that they consume from various types of aquatic life.

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle has a beak like structure to their jaws. This is because they need a pointy object that allows them to remove food from crevices in the coral reefs. That is where their foods sources of sponges, squid, and shrimp are found. Leatherback Sea Turtles can only consume very soft foods such as jellyfish due to the design of their jaws. They are very similar to a pair of scissors.

Sea turtles can alter their metabolism when food becomes scarce too. This is one way that they have been able to successfully adapt to their natural habitat. However, when a lack of available food continues to be a problem, many of them may starve. Others move far away from their natural habitat in order to find a residence that does offer them food.

Feeding Habits of sea turtles.

Green Sea Turtle eating seagrass.

Research has also determined that all sea turtles are opportunistic when it comes to feeding. That means they will consume what they can get their hands on when regular supplies of food are scarce. Before they do this though they will go to great lengths to find what they really want. This is more evident with the older sea turtles behaviors than with the younger ones.

The sea turtles that migrate also find food along the way back to their original location. The females consume large amounts of food before they go to land in search of a place to nest. They will dig an area and then deposit their eggs in it before returning to the water. This can take several hours and it does take a great deal of energy for them to complete the process.

The amount of food that a sea turtle will consume depends on many factors. The species that it is and what it eats are the biggest factors. There is also the time of year as they tend to consume more in the summer months while migrating and getting ready for mating. In many areas though it is getting harder and harder for them to find their foods of choice. This is due to the number of fishermen in the area and their sophisticated equipment that allows them to gather large amounts of aquatic life for profit.

While sea turtles are busy looking for food, they also have to make sure they don’t become food. Some of their well known predators include sharks and killer whales while they are in the water. On land they are also in danger from birds, raccoons, lizards, dogs, and crabs. The various types of coloring on their bodies can camouflage them in many instances. Many younglings die due to such predators but larger sea turtles are less likely to become a meal.