Sea is the best place to find interesting things, ranging from curious animals to splendid coral reef. One of animals living in the sea is sea turtle, an omnivore that can live for hundred years. What do sea turtles eat so they can live a long life? While some people also ask if turtles have teeth, talking about sea turtle foods is more interesting.
Basically, sea turtle can be divided into omnivores that eat variety of animals and plants and specialists that eat specific food, either plant or animal. Sea turtle diet is also closely related to the shape of their mouth and jaw. Sea turtles that eat something hard have stronger jaw than turtles that eat grass and weeds with beaky, serrated mouth.
What Do Sea Turtles Eat in Nature?
When it comes to sea turtle diet, you cannot mention specific kind of food for the whole species. Considering each turtle species has different anatomy of mouth and jaw, they also have different food.
For example, green sea turtles that eat seagrasses have beak with serrated edge to help them tear seaweeds. Or else, there is loggerhead sea turtles which have strong jaw to crush hard shell.
Adult leatherback sea turtles are known as gelatinivores, which means they only eat gelatinious prey. Their diets range from jellies and soft-bodied invertebrates such as sea squirts and tunicates. This kind of sea turtle has two sharp cusps which help them piece jellies and other preys. The cusps are on the upper and lower jaw, allowing them to catch prey above and below them
As the name suggests, green sea turtles are known as herbivores. Their diet consists of variety plants and green foliage under the sea such as algae, seaweed, and seagrass. To help tear seagrass and seaweeds, green turtles possess beak with finely serrated edge. This mouth anatomy also allows them to scrape algae from rocks.
Green turtles are important in the ecosystem, especially to maintain the health of coral. Green sea turtles eat algae so that the population will not overgrow.
Being a carnivore, loggerhead sea turtles eat whelks, crabs, horseshow crabs, and conchs. However, loggerheads are not carnivore since they hatch because the hatchlings are known as omnivores. They eat variety of plants and animals. Loggerhead hatchling grows into an adult that possess strong jaw and massive head to help crush their hard-shelled preys.
Categorized into specialists, hawksbill sea turtles exclusively eat sponges. This also makes them referred to as spongivores. And yet, they do not consume all types of sponge because hawksbills are quite selective in finding food.Even though some sponges contain toxins, hawksbills immune to it. Thankfully, it makes less competition for the food.
Hawksbills receives its name for reason. This sea turtle has unique shape of beak. To enable them find sponges that hide within crevices, hawksbills have sharp and narrow beak that looks like bird’s beak.
Flatback sea turtles are known as omnivores, which diets consists of plants and animals. Flatback’s favorite foods range from sea cucumbers, soft corals, jellies, crabs, shrimps, fish, seaweed, and mollusk.
Olive ridley is another species of omnivore sea turtles. They eat many kinds of animals and plants such as crabs, lobsters, shrimps, jellies, algae, fish, and urchins.
Being a carnivore, the diets of this sea turtle include fish, shrimps, jellies, crabs, and mollusks. However, their favorite food is crab.
What do sea turtles eat? There are various species of sea turtles and each of them has different diets ranging from sea plants and animals. Their food is also closely related to the anatomy of jaws and mouth, allowing them to find their food with ease.