Turtles are an ancient group of reptiles that have changed little in the last 100 million years. All breath air, are cold blooded and need to return to land in order to nest. There are seven species of sea turtles worldwide and five of these can be seen in the Maldives. However, only two are seen on a very regular basis and these are the Hawksbill turtle and the Green turtle. Hawksbill Turtles have beak-like jaws, which are ideal for ripping off sponges and anemones from the reef. The Hawksbill is a tropical species that grows to about 1m (3ft). The adults can be identified by the serrated edge on their carapace and mottled turtle shell pattern. .
Green Turtles are named for the green coloured fat underneath their shells and eat sea grass and algae when adults. Both of these species can be spotted throughout the year as they gently glide along the reef’s edge grazing and munching as they go. Over the past century, turtles have faced incessant threats from human who are keen to turn their beautiful shells into jewellery and trinkets. In the Maldives, all turtles are protected and hunting them is strictly prohibited.