Sea Turtles 101

Why are Sea Turtles Important?

SEA TURTLES are large marine reptiles that have roamed the earth’s seas for millions of years. Today, seven unique species, and one sub species, utilize oceanic and coastal areas across the world. Providing sanctuary for five sea turtle species, Florida’s beaches, nearshore reefs, and lush seagrass beds are some of the most biologically important habitats that need our attention. Although sea turtles have been using these habitats for generations to forage and reproduce, over the last century, populations have declined due to many human activities and behaviors. As a result, all species were designated as either threatened or endangered under the U.S. endangered species act in the early 1970s.

It has been over 40 years since this critical designation was assigned and thankfully positive consequences are being observed in part due to fisheries management, coastal light management, predatory control programs, and beach management. Individual people have also contributed to the current success story of sea turtles by making sustainable changes to their daily lives.

Coastal Connections Inc.’s mission is to protect coastal habitats for sea turtle survival by educating and connecting people to the environment. We use diverse approaches to meet our mission and to involve all people in the ongoing success story of sea turtle recovery.

Sea Turtles of the World

Coastal Connections Leatherback Sea Turtle


  • Scientific Name: Dermochelys coriacea
  • Protection Status: Endangered (U.S. status); Vulnerable (International)
  • Size: 660-1,100lbs (300-500 kg);
    4-6ft (130 - 183 cm)
  • Range: Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (largest range north to south)
  • Food Choice: Jellyfish and other gelatinous animals
  • Fun Fact: The largest leatherback sea turtle ever found was over 2,000 lbs and was almost 10ft from tip to the beak

Coastal Connections Loggerhead Sea Turtle


  • Scientific Name: Caretta caretta
  • Protection Status: Threatened (U.S. status); Vulnerable (International)
  • Size: 155 - 375lbs (70-170 kg);
    2.5 - 3.5ft (80 - 110 cm)
  • Range: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Food Choice: Shellfish & crustaceans 
  • Fun Fact: Florida’s most common nesting species

Coastal Connections Green Sea Turtle

Green Turtle

  • Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas
  • Protection Status: Threatened (U.S. status); Endangered (International)
  • Size: 240 - 420lbs (110 - 190kg);
    3 - 4ft (83 - 114cm)
  • Range: Found in all temperate and tropical waters throughout the world
  • Food Choice: Sea grass & algae
  • Fun Fact: The only sea turtle to become a strict herbivore when it reaches adulthood

Coastal Connections Black Sea Turtle

Black Turtle

  • Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas agassizii
  • Protection Status: Endangered
  • Size: 220lbs (100kg); reach 3ft 3inch (100cm)
  • Range: Tropical and Subtropical waters of the Pacific Ocean 
  • Food Choice: Strict herbivores mainly feeding on marine algae 
  • Fun Fact: A subspecies of green sea turtle that are darker in color

Coastal Connections Flatback Sea Turtle


  • Scientific Name: Natator depressus
  • Protection Status: Vulnerable (Australian status); Data Deficient (International)
  • Size: Average 198lbs (90kg); Up to 3.25ft (99cm)
  • Range: Only in waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific 
  • Food Choice: Sea cucumber, jellyfish, mollusks, other invertebrates
  • Fun Fact: Lays about 50 eggs at a time and will nest 4 times per season 

Coastal Connections Hawksbill Sea Turtle


  • Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata
  • Protection Status: Endangered (U.S. status); Critically Endangered (International)
  • Size: 101 - 154lbs (46 - 70kg);
    2.5 - 3ft (71 - 89cm)
  • Range: Tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Food Choice: Sponges, anemones, squid, shrimp
  • Fun Fact: Still hunted today for their ornate shells which is often referred to as “tortoise shell”. Their shells are used to make hair accessories, jewelry, and other decorative items.

Coastal Connections Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Olive Ridley

  • Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
  • Protection Status: Threatened (U.S. status); Vulnerable (International)
  • Size: 77 - 100lbs (35 - 45kg);
    2 - 2.5ft (62 - 70cm)
  • Range: Tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans
  • Food Choice: Crustaceans, mollusks, fish
  • Fun Fact: Partake in mass syncronized nesting (arribadas) on only a few nesting beaches across the world. The most regular arribada nesting occurs in Ostional, Costa Rica.

Coastal Connections Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle

Kemps Ridley

  • Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii
  • Protection Status: Endangered (U.S. status); Critically Endangered (International)
  • Size: 70 - 108lbs (32 - 49kg); around 2ft (58 - 66cm)
  • Range: Adults are mostly limited to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Food Choice: Crabs, mussels, clams, fish, squid, jellyfish
  • Fun Fact: Partake in mass synchronized nesting (arribadas) only in Mexico and are common nesters in only Mexico and Texas. Florida is beginning to see a growing number of Kemps Ridley nesters.