Panama City Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America


        Quick Links

Leatherback hatchling
Credit: Betsy Straley
Baby sea turtle
Credit: Shirley Brown



Sea Turtles


Sea turtles are among the largest living reptiles. They have scales and a bony shell, are cold-blooded, breathe air, and lay their eggs on land. Sea turtles are long-lived, although scientists are uncertain how long they live because there is no known way to determine their age. Unlike the land turtles from which they evolved, sea turtles spend almost their entire lives in the sea. They glide gracefully through the water with flipper-like forelimbs and a streamlined shell. Sea turtles frequently come to the surface to breathe when active, but they can remain underwater for several hours when resting.

All six species of turtles in the United States are listed as threatened or endangered (fact sheets below) and all species can be found in the Southeast. Find out how you can help protect sea turtles. Click here to obtain a Guide to Sea Turtle Lighting.


Fact Sheets Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Endangered  
  Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Endangered  
  Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Endangered  
  Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Endangered  
  Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Threatened  
  Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Threatened  




Last updated: April 17, 2018