What Do Sea Turtles Eat

So what do sea turtles eat?

The answers that come to mind are sea grass and jellyfish.

But in the reality it's more complicated than that - what do sea turtles eat varies quite a bit between speices.

A Loggerhead Turtle Grazes on Sea Grass
Loggerhead on sea grass. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Loggerhead turtles have large head and strong jaws which enables them to eat prey with hard shells - such as clams, whelks, conchs, as well as crabs, lobster, mollusks and other crustacians.

But they also eat softer things such as squid, shrimp and jellyfish. While the adults are carnivores, young eat both plants and animals.

Remoras attach to a leatherback turtle in underwater foraging grounds
Leaderback in the open water. By AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Leatherback turtles on the other hand eat soft food like sea squirts, tunicates and particularly jellyfish. Their jaws are not good for hard shelled diet, instead they have sharp parts that help them to spear and hold onto jellyfish. They are also deep divers and live in the open water - an environment well suited for catching jellyfish.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata) Eating Soft Corals
Hawksbill in coral reef. By AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Hawksbill turtles have hawk's beak like jaws, which are suited to catching animals such as squid and shrimp in coral reef - their major feeding environment, but their particular speciality is sponges.
Green Sea Turtle Feeding in Seagrass Beds (Chelonia Mydas), Red Sea, Egypt
Green turtle eating sea grass. By AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Green turtles eat both plants and animals as young, but once they are adults they turn to total plant eaters. They eat mainly seaweed, sea grasses and algae, and their jaws are adapted to that diet with sawlike edges that easily cut plant material.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) Swimming, Costa Rica
Olive Ridley. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Olive ridley turtles eat plants as well as animals, such as algae, fish, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, jellyfish and sea urchins. Kemp's ridley turtles eat only animals such as mollusks, shrimps, fish and jellyfish, but their particular favourite and speciality is crabs.

In Contrast to the More Flat-Curved Carapace of the Kemp's Ridle
Kemp's Ridley. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Flatback turtles, which are only found in Australia, are both plant and animal eaters. They eat sea cucumbers, sea weed, soft corals, mollusks, jellyfish, crabs, shrimps and fish.

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