Sea Turtles General Info

There are four types of Sea Turtles that have been documented in St. Maarten; Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Loggerhead. If you would like to see detailed information and photos from St. Maarten you can view each page by clicking on that species below:

Green Sea Turtles

Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Leatherback Sea Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

General Sea Turtle Facts:

  • Sea Turtles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
  • Most sea turtles need to reach a certain size, not age, to reproduce. This can mean if their growth is stunted due to lack of food or poor water quality it can take extra time to reach sexual maturity. Some species take 20 to 30 years.
  • Female turtles return to the same area (or even the same beach) that they hatched from to lay their eggs. Beachfront construction is a major threat to this practice. When ready to nest the female turtle will use the Earth’s magnetic fields to find her way home!
  • The temperature of the nest dictates what sex the babies will be. Warmer nests produce females while cooler ones lead to more males. The effects of climate change could skew the population and disrupt reproduction.
  • A turtle’s shell is part of it’s skeleton (not just a house) and it contains over 50 bones including their rib cage. Their shell grows with them as they age.
  • Some sea turtles can live to be more than 100 years old.
  • Only 1% off all sea turtles will live to become adults due to environmental dangers (predators) and human impact. Humans are the number one threat to a turtle’s survival, the most danger being caused by ocean pollution, commercial fishing, poor water quality from wastewater run-off and boat strikes.

Did you know that all sea turtles are protected in St. Maarten?

Based on Articles 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick up sea turtles. It is also illegal to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage, or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is forbidden to disturb, damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs or breeding places. Also, it is forbidden to pick up or to destroy the eggs of any species of sea turtle.

For more information about how The Nature Foundation protects and monitors sea turtles take a look at our monitoring page:

https://naturefoundationsxm.org/research/monitoring/sea-turtle-monitoring/

Or read the 2019 Sea Turtle Nesting Report by Saskia Werner

The Nature Foundation also partners with Widecast, the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network to preserve, protect and study these animals on St. Maarten. Their website: widecast.org has several great resources and much more information about sea turtles.

Photo credits Leslie Hickerson and Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.