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  Marine Turtles of Australia    

Marine Turtles of Australia

Species - Australian Flatback Turtle
(Natator depressus)

The Flatback turtle is listed as vunerable. This is the only Australian turtle that breeds solely in Australian waters. It prefers to live in soft-bottomed habitats away from reefs and nests on islands along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in northern Australian. Flatback shells are wide with turned up edges, covered by a thin fleshy skin. The colour is usually yellow-grey or olive-grey, with the underside a pale yellow. Flatbacks are a medium-sized marine turtle.

Unlike other sea turtle species flatbacks do not spend years out at sea and remain in the surface waters of the continental shelf. They prefer inshore waters and bays where their feeding ground is the shallow, softbottomed seabed. While in the sea the turtles spend much of their time at the surface basking in the sun.

It lays fewer but larger eggs than other sea turtle species and their hatchlings are the largest of any turtle.

Size & Weight: Adults measure up to one metre in length and weigh an average of 90 kg.

Diet: They eat seagrass, sea cucumbers, sea pens, jellyfish, molluscs, prawns, soft corals, other invertebrates and seaweed.

Flatback turtle eggs are eaten by a range of predators, including sand goannas, foxes, dogs and feral pigs.

Habitat & Distribution: Prefer turbid inshore waters, bays, coastal coral reef and grassy shallows. Their distribution is very limited. They are found only in the waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific.

Australian Flatback Turtle
Image © Michael J. Barritt Flickr

Australian Flatback Turtle
Image © Phelpsy74 Flickr

The Kimberley's Flatback Sea Turtles
http://www.seaturtles.org - The Kimberley coast is a critical feeding, breeding, and migratory area for the Australian flatback sea turtles. Proposed oil and gas development is along the pristine nesting beaches of the Kimberley coast which would forever alter the quality of this habitat.

Next:  Green Sea Turtle  ...   


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