In Malaysia there is an island known for more sea turtles than virtually anywhere on Earth. Jonathan visits this amazing ecosystem to learn about the life cycle of sea turtles. He is surprised to discover an amazingly complex and competitive environment.
This is an HD upload of a previously released segment.
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We head out towards the reefs of Sipadan island. This island is so small that you can walk all the way around it on the beach in an hour. Yet, it has a huge population of sea turtles.
As the school of fish swims away, I spot my first sea turtle—a Green sea turtle swimming over the reef. It wasn’t hard because they’re everywhere. Some are swimming around, while others are napping on and in the reef. Sea turtles actually sleep underwater while holding their breath. A sea turtle can easily hold its breath over an hour!
A few hundred feet away, I find a Hawksbill sea turtle munching on the reef.
She is plucking out tasty sponges and invertebrates that hide in the coral, rather than eat the coral itself. It takes a tough stomach to digest this stuff.
As we circle the island, I can see the tracks left in the sand by females that have climbed the beach to lay their eggs.
It all starts when a male, identified by his long tail, catches up with a cooperative female and courts her.
From the surface, I see the action and I prepare to film it.
The mating has begun, and I quietly approach to film the action.
Mating is not easy for the female sea turtle. She must swim—and rise to breathe—for both of them.
The male's long tail holds the female and fertilizes the eggs, while claws on his front flippers give him the ability to grasp the female's shell.
The commotion doesn't go unnoticed by other males in the area. They flock to the mating pair, which have drifted away from the reef.
Eventually, no less than four additional male turtles arrive to challenge the suitor.
They all try the same techniques and it is starting to wear him down. Meanwhile the female is near exhaustion. The male is only struggling to hold on….the female is struggling to survive.
Hours later, the male has outlasted his rivals. He fertilizes the female's eggs and with luck his genes will continue on.
As if her job weren't hard enough already, the female now faces another tremendous task--to lay the eggs—but it must wait until nightfall.
After the sun sets, I head to the beach in total darkness.
The females come ashore and lay their eggs in the sand.
I have found a turtle hauling herself out of the water, painstakingly clawing her way up the beach to high ground. Although sea turtles live their entire lives in the ocean, they lay their eggs in a nest on the beach.
After the sea turtle reaches an area well above the high tide line, she begins to throw sand around to create a pit.
She's out of her element and vulnerable. The slightest sound or light would frighten her back into the water.
She must stop frequently to catch her breath. Her crushing weight on land literally asphyxiates her.
She begins to dig a hole about 3 feet deep with her rear flippers. The hole doesn't just protect the eggs from predators. The sex of the baby turtles is a function of the incubation temperature. A shallow nest baking in the sun will be too warm and all the babies will be female. A deep one will be too cold and the babies will all be male. Digging to the right depth insures a good mix of males and females.
At last she begins to lay as many as 100 squishy eggs about the size of ping pong balls into the nest. In 2 months, these eggs will hatch and the baby turtles will emerge.
After she has finished laying her eggs, she carefully fills in the hole.
Then she cleverly disguises the exact location of the nest by flinging some sand around.
After two hours of effort, she plods her way laboriously back to the sea, completely exhausted.
Two months later, newly hatched sea turtles race to the sea. Each baby turtle must rush past a gauntlet of predators from land, sky and sea to reach the open ocean. Odds are, only one of these baby sea turtles will survive.
On their journey, the sea turtles must fight their way through the surf, swim across the shallows and then make their way to the open ocean, away from predators on the reef. They won’t return to their home on the reef until they are large enough to be safe—about the size of a dinner plate.
It’s a long and perilous journey but if this sea turtle survives, it may go on to live over a hundred years.
i know we have to let the wild take over but i thought of why not keep them until they are a little bit bigger and release them to the wild cause there won't be much of a difference if they're all gonna die out there anyway and only one will survive :(
too bad we can't keep them in captivity cause they won't survive in the wild :(
Wow!both beautiful and fascinating sea turtles! The babies are so cute also why do the female or male needs to hang on the males or female please answer!😅
Poor female turtles or male she or he got bitten😥
I have thousands of Turtle Fossils. It is Great to watch Live Turtles, and ""with this quality of "Dive Video", etc, I can match Forms, species, and pattern. These Fossils kill me..., they are so Beautiful. One ancient Sea Species has a front foot 32" long. TURTLE ISLAND has been found. I speak the truth....Three Meteor Impacts later. The smoking Gun is, "all of These TURTLE remains" .
It's true in Malaysia there are lots of Sea Turtles. I know this because I'm from Malaysia. Last year, I learned about sea creatures. There are at least 4 different species of sea turtles. Anyway, I hope you liked Malaysia, Jonathan!
do you ever travel to Florida, where the famous Keys have beautiful dive scenes. You know I've been on a boat out to a little sight place that has beautiful barracudas and fish and even a few eagle rays, of course as you know I'm not certified for diving yet(which you defentately can scuba dive there)I had to do snorkel. I had an amazing encounter with a really big population of Moon Jelly fish, a huge barracuda, and alot of the reefs fish, a few people even said that they saw some reef sharks, and they saw a few tigers, maybe even rays. :)
it's so fun there. You would absolutely love it.
Might be a stupid question but does anyone here now how the baby turtles know how they have to immediately go into the water?
Like they hatch and as soon as they break through the sand the go to the water, how does that happen or why does that happen?
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