4 Survival Tips from a Sea Turtle

Sea turtles are tough cookies. Not only have they been around for over 100 million years, but they also survived history’s most infamous mass extinction event, so they must be pretty tough!

We asked a few local sea turtles how they outlived the dinosaurs and they graciously offered some tried and true survival tips:


1. Get a suit of armor

Sea turtles have an external shell, or carapace, that serves as a natural suit of hard, bony armor. Unlike like many turtle species, sea turtles cannot retract their heads and limbs into their shells to shield from predators. However, the shape of the carapace is streamlined for speed in the water. So not only is their shell a natural suit of armor but it’s hydrodynamic as well. Perfect for a fast, underwater getaway.


2. Take swimming lessons

Speaking of a speedy, underwater getaway, these guys definitely know how to get around in the water. They use their front flippers to move forward and upward, and their back flippers to steer left or right, much like rowboat paddles.
Not only can they exert great bursts of speed to avoid predators, but they are also long distance swimmers, able to travel miles and miles without tiring. Of course, humans are at an evolutionary disadvantage since we have these pesky ten digit hands instead of four perfectly formed water paddles – drat!


3. Buff up those lungs!

Like humans, sea turtles breathe air, but they can hold their breath underwater for much, much longer periods of time than we can – sometimes for hours! They have special lungs that don’t sustain damage from high water pressure when they dive.

Additionally, sea turtles can extract oxygen through their cloaca and pharynx during deep dives and leatherbacks can store extra oxygen in their blood and muscle. Obviously, that’s a little bit beyond our biological abilities but, let record holder Tom Sietas and his super-lungs be your inspiration – he can hold his breath for 22 minutes! #goals


4. Check in at your friendly, neighborhood Sea Turtle Care Center™

There are things that even the resilient sea turtle doesn’t always survive like plastic ingestion, fishing line entanglement, boat strikes and dredging. For that, there is the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center™.

This month, the South Carolina Aquarium celebrates the groundbreaking of Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™, a new living exhibit and interactive learning landscape opening in 2017 on the first floor of the Aquarium’s main exhibit galleries.

You can follow the story of these sick and injured sea turtles from rescue, to rehabilitation, to release, and learn how we can help ensure that sea turtles survive another 100 million years!