All US Orders Ship Free for a Limited Time!

Sea Turtle Mating And How It Happens

Sea Turtle Mating And How It Happens

July 11, 2018

Sea Turtle Mating And How It Happens

Although turtles and rabbits have often been compared on speed, with turtles being the slow ones, you also hear all about rabbits breeding prolifically but you don’t hear it about turtles. Why not?  Turtles have been around for millions of years, so one might think that they do breed prolifically as well. They do tend to lay large numbers of eggs, but their system of breeding is about as far from a rabbit as one can get!

Sea turtles mating picture

Turtle Mating

Some turtles spend a lot of time in groups of males and females, some spend time in mating pairs, and others do not come together much until it is time to breed.

For sea turtles, the mating season usually happens when the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer.

The temperature surrounding the eggs will determine the gender of the hatchlings in many turtle breeds, so they need to reproduce when temperatures will vary. 

How It Happens

Male and female turtles appear to choose their mates based on availability.

The female will typically swim in water not too far from shore.

She will swim in a horizontal position and the male will mount her.

Males may hook their claws into the neck of the female to hold on and if they don’t, they may slip off preventing successful mating.

The male has a penis that is sheathed inside the cloaca which is the same orifice used to eliminate waste.

The female will have a clutch of eggs inside her cloaca, so the male inserts his penis into her cloaca and releases sperm. 

Male Competition

It isn't uncommon to see other males arrive during the mating process and try to detach the male from the female, so they can try to lay their eggs instead.

The competition can become fierce, with biting and bumping, but the mating male can't fight back because if he does he risks slipping off the female.

After all, this is a competition of reproduction and only the strongest genes will survive.

Strong competition could be a reason sea turtles have been around over a hundred millions of years.

mating sea turtles

Image By Brian Gratwicke

What Happens Next?

Once the eggs are immersed in sperm inside the female, she will separate from the male and swim towards the shore.

If other males approach she will fight to avoid them even if she has to get rough to protect her newly fertilized eggs.

She then swims to shore, digs a nest, and lays the eggs as quickly as she can.



Leave a comment


Also in Sea Turtle Blog

How Beach Erosion Affects Nesting Sea Turtles
How Beach Erosion Affects Nesting Sea Turtles

March 11, 2019

The biggest threat is human use of nesting beaches, as it can disturb the nesting females and prevent them from ...

Read More

How Invasive Species Threaten Sea Turtles
How Invasive Species Threaten Sea Turtles

March 04, 2019

Although hard shells known as carapaces protect sea turtles, they remain threatened by ...

Read More

The Threat Of Sea Turtle Harvesting for Consumption
The Threat Of Sea Turtle Harvesting for Consumption

February 25, 2019

Sea turtles are among the animals with great mythological and spiritual importance in different cultures in the world. But even with that, humans are not above themselves to consume the meat or eggs of sea turtles. The significance of these animals ...

Read More