The Sea Turtle Coloring Book

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1 The Sea Turtle Coloring Book

2 Sea turtles are reptiles, the same as lizards, gecko and snakes. Unlike their crocodile and snake relatives, turtle have no teeth. Turtles have a shell, called a carapace, that protects them from their enemies. Sea turtles spend all of their lives in the ocean, except for females who return to beaches to lay their eggs. The sea turtle, unlike most other turtles, cannot pull its head and flippers into its shell, and its legs have changed to become more like a fish's fins.

3 Sea turtles have been around for 150 million years. Their ancestors were giant land turtles that entered the sea ages ago when the dinosaurs first lived. It took millions of years for sea turtles to evolve, for legs to become flippers and for big bodies to flatten into streamlined shapes. The dinosaurs are gone, but somehow sea turtle have lived on. The sea turtle share the ocean with fish, whales, other sea creatures and with you and me.

4 When western explorers began traveling the to Americas and the Pacific, there were millions of turtle in the seas. These explorers found that one kind of sea turtle had especially tasty meat. This turtle is brown all over, can grow to weigh 400 pounds and eats algae near the shore. The fat inside this turtle's body was green from the vegetation it ate, so it was named the green turtle. It is the only sea turtle that lives only on plants.

5 The hawksbill is one of the most beautiful sea turtles. Its hard shell is made up of dark brown or yellow and brown scales that overlap like shingle on a roof. The hawksbill get its name from its beak because the top hooks down much like the bill of a hawk. This turtle measures less than a meter in length and weighs up to 88 kilograms. Hawksbills live near coral reefs and rocky shorelines where they find sponges, worms, fish, snails and crabs to eat.

6 The loggerhead turtle is slightly smaller than the green turtle. A loggerhead turtle may weight between 130 and 170 kilograms. It east crabs, mollusks and other sea animals. The loggerhead feeds near coral reefs and rocks. This turtle can be recognized by its large, wide head and broad, shot neck. The shell and skin of the loggerhead is reddish-brown. The loggerhead is big and fast and has few natural enemies other than man.

7 The leatherback is the largest sea turtle living today. It may grow to be 2.5 meters long and weight 888 kilograms. Its overall color is black and the leatherback is the only sea turtle that does not have a hard top shell. Instead it is protected by a thick skin that has seven ridges along its back. This leathery back gives the turtle its name. The leatherback is a great traveler in the seas and its huge flippers take it thousands of miles. The leatherback's favorite food is a jellyfish that most sea animals avoid; the poisonous Portuguese man-of-war.

8 A female green turtle has arrived at her nesting beach at night. It is time for her to lay her eggs, and she might nest again three or more times during a single nesting season. Although she is fast in the water, she is slow and in danger on land. This female dragged herself up on the beach above the reach of the high tide. She dug a pit for her eggs using her flippers like shovels, and she will drop about 100 white, leathery eggs that look like ping-pong balls into the hole. When she finishes, she will cover the nest with sand and slowly crawl back to the sea.

9 The rays of the sun heat the beach, warming the turtle's eggs buried n the sand. The eggs are ready to hatch in about two months. The baby turtles, or hatchlings, break out of their shells using a small, sharp point at the front of their snout. Al must hatch at almost the same time as all must share the work to escape from the nest. The baby turtles dig away at the sand overhead. This sand falls on their empty shells, building a platform that allows the hatchlings to rise out of the nest. When their little heads and flippers wriggle out onto the beach, they make a fast crawl to reach the sea.

10 Some people around the world who live near the shore have always hunted sea turtle to help feed their families. A fisherman might spear a turtle or groups of hunters caught them in their nets. For years, there were many turtles and hunting seemed to have little affect on their numbers. But more and more turtles were hunted for their beautiful shells and tasty meat. Hunters took thousands of turtles from the sea, on the land when they were nesting and collected their eggs. Fewer and fewer turtles were left until they were almost gone. Now laws protect turtles, but not every country has these laws and not everyone obeys them.

11 The hatchlings race to the sea. The brightness over the water attracts them. Full of life, but defenseless, they race across the beach. Their shells are soft and offer little protection. Lizards, crabs and sea birds chase the tiny turtles and eat them. Many of the hatchlings that make it to the water may be eaten by fish. Only a few of the hatchlings will live to become adults. Where the hatchlings go for their first few years is one of nature's great mysteries. The hatchlings will not be seen again until they are a few years old when they return to be found feeding near the shore.

12 This sea turtle coloring book has been taken from a popular coloring book by the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Center for Marine Conservation. The drawings were created by Mary Beath and the original text was written by Francine Jacobs. A revised version of the original coloring book has also been published in Hawaiian by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Kihei, Maui. Mary Beath has always been interested in both science and art. She received her B.A. degree in zoology from Duke University and later a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is also a printmaker, using natural forms, rhythms, and colors in her abstract prints. Francine Jacobs is the author of dozens of books for young readers. A former teacher, many of her books are on nature-science subjects. Ms. Jacobs grew up in a small, oceanside community on Long Island, New York. The sea and its creatures have always fascinated her. She is an avid conservationist.

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