Turtles

How Many Eggs Do Sea Turtles Lay?

If you’ve ever seen a clutch of sea turtle eggs, then you’ll probably have not been able to count how many eggs there are. That’s because sea turtles lay a seemingly large amount of eggs. When you think of sea turtles, your first thought probably goes straight to them being endangered. What you don’t automatically expect with endangered species is for them to lay such a large amount of eggs. So how many eggs do sea turtles lay?

On average, across all sea turtles species, they lay a clutch of roughly 110 eggs. Sea turtles commonly lay a couple of clutches per cycle, being a couple of weeks apart during summer, with some species only laying once every two or three years. Turtles are not maternal, so from the moment they hatch from their eggs, they’re left to fend for themselves.

Each specie of sea turtle has a varied amount of eggs in each clutch, so let’s take a closer look into these individually.

How many eggs do sea turtles lay per species?

Hawkbill Turtles

Hawkbill turtles have the largest clutch of the sea turtles species. Once they reach sexual maturity, (usually between 20-25 years of age) they commonly lay anywhere between 140 and 160 eggs per clutch, with the highest average nearing a massive 200 eggs. Female hawkbill turtles only return to their nesting ground every two or three years. Amazingly, every time they return to the exact same beach at which they were hatched. 

The nesting season for Hawkbills ranges from the end of April, right the way through to the end of October, lasting for about 6 months. Throughout this time, female Hawkbill turtles will lay 3-6 clutches of eggs, each being at least a two weeks apart. So once the nesting season begins, it may last for a couple of months until the last clutch is laid.

Female Hawkbill turtles will commonly nest on the beaches surrounding the Caribbean. Varying from the beaches of the Southern States of America, all the ways down through Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and eventually Venezuela. With some even going further south along the eastern coasts of Brazil. 

Olive & Kemp Ridley Turtles 

The Ridleys have very similar clutch sizes as they both produce anywhere between 100-110 eggs per clutch on average. They both reach sexual maturity from 11-16 years of age and will lay up to three clutches per cycle.

Olive Ridleys are mostly found in the regions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The Olive Ridley species seem to like the open ocean. They’re not usually seem in the shallows unlike their close cousin species, the Kemp Ridleys. Olive Ridleys will nest on only a few designated beaches in their selected habitat. Pacific species will nest on Mexican beaches, along to coast down to Columbia. In the Indian Ocean, they will nest along the Eastern coasts of India and Sri Lanka. Whilst in the Atlantic, they will nest along to coastal beaches of Western Africa, but these numbers are rapidly declining.

Kemp Ridleys are most commonly found in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They have very high numbers along the Southern states of America, especially around the Louisiana beaches, as these waters are their favourite feeding grounds. It is believed that up to 95% of the Kemp Ridley species nest consistently on the Mexican beaches of Veracruz, and also the beaches of Texas, USA. The other 5% can nest as far East as Florida.

Green Turtles

The Green turtle species has a wide clutch size compared to other species which ranges between 80-180 eggs. Some clutches have even been recorded to exceed to 200 range. They reach sexual maturity from 25-40 years of age, so some individuals may be ready the reproduce years before other individuals of a similar age. Their breeding season usually occurs in the early summer months, but females only breed every three years.

Green turtles have acclimatised to warm waters. Because of this Green turtles are commonly found all around the world in subtropical and tropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. 

Nesting occurs on the beaches of more than 80 countries worldwide. The most popular nesting ground for Green turtles are the beaches surrounding the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The Hawaiian Islands, Virgin Islands and Eastern Floria are the favourited America nesting grounds. This specie of turtle will also return to nest of the same beaches as it hatched. 

Leatherback Turtles

Leatherback turtles have some of the smallest clutches of eggs which commonly range between 50-90 per clutch. They are also the earliest of the sea turtle species to reach sexual maturity. Individuals may become sexual natural from as year as 7 years of age, with the average ranging from 7-13 years of age. Another anomaly from their cousins, is that leatherback actually nest in the months of December and January, which differs from all other sea species.

Commonly found in tropical waters across the world, Leatherbacks can be seen in both the Eastern and Western coasts of America. Leatherback turtles like the deep waters, however they will sometime venture into shallower waters to feed. 

Leatherback turtles nest in high quantities along the Eastern coastal areas of Central America including Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. However they also nest on the coasts of west Africa, Northern South America and Papua New Guinea.

Loggerhead Turtles

The Loggerhead turtle specie has a clutch size of 90-120 eggs, and reach sexual maturity from 25-35 years old. They have a wide range of habitat environments which range through the tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. In the Pacific, you will be able to find loggerheads as far north as Alaska, and in the Atlantic as far south as Argentina. So they can bare the coldness if they need too.

They nest along the Western coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with the most common locations including Oman, Australia and the United States. Loggerheads nesting season begins around the end of April and ends in early September, however like the Green turtle series, they will only nest every two to three years. 

The only known nesting area in the North Pacific is along the Southern Japanese coasts. However it is believed these numbers are falling rapidly and will soon be non existent nesting grounds. If you want to see Loggerheads in the US, your best chance is off the coast of California. 

Flatback Turtles

The Flatback turtle has the lowest sized clutch of all the sea turtles species. With an overall average of 110 eggs per clutch across all species, Flatbacks clutch size is roughly half this amount, averaging at 50 eggs per clutch. They reach sexual maturity anywhere between 7-50 years of ages, and is totally dependant on the individual.

Flatback turtles are found in only one region of the world. They are found off the coast of Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea and are happily limited to this area only. Unlike all the other species of sea turtles, Flatback’s don’t migrate. They live primarily in the shallow waters and only ever swim in depths of 60 metres or less.

Nesting ground can be found across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, with the main nesting ground are located close to the Great Barrier Reef. Flatback eggs usually begin to hatch at the peak of the Australian summer, throughout the month December until late March.

When do sea turtles lay their eggs?

All seven species of sea turtle have different breeding time in the year. It’s believed this is the case due to the fact that many of them use the same beaches to nest. Obviously they can’t all nest at the same time, so they have evolved with different breeding periods. 

Did you know, the gender of a turtle depends on what temperature the eggs are incubated at?

No. Well you’re probably not alone, as this is a fun fact which usually takes people by surprise. 

If sea turtle eggs are incubated at a temperature around 72 Degrees Fahrenheit, the likeliness is that they will hatch as male species. Where as if the eggs are incubated around 88 Degrees Fahrenheit, then the likeliness is they will hatch as females.

The optimal temperature for sea turtles to be nested at is 84 Degrees Fahrenheit. This gives the sea turtles eggs the best chance of hatching at an even ratio between males and females.

So when do sea turtles lay their eggs exactly?

Like I have stated before, all the seven sea turtle species lay their eggs at different times of the year. So let’s take a more in-depth look at exactly when each individual species lays their eggs. Here you’ll see each individual species “High Nesting Seasons”, “Low Nesting Seasons” and “No Nesting Seasons”. These specific months may vary slightly for each species as nesting seasons can not alway be exact. However, this is our findings.

Hawksbill Turtles Kemp Ridleys

High Season March – October High Season May – July

Low Season April – December  Low Season April – September

No Nesting January – February Usually No Nesting October – March

Olive Ridleys Leatherback Turtles

High Season May – July High Season February – April

Low Season April – September Low Season May – July

Usually No Nesting October – March Usually No Nesting August – January

Loggerhead Turtles Green Turtles

High Season June – July High Season June – August

Low Season April – September Low Season September – November

Usually No Nesting October – May Usually No Nesting December – May

Flatback Turtles

High Season July – August

Low Season January – December 

Usually No Nesting N/A

Where do each species lay their eggs?

It’s very common for sea turtles to share nesting grounds as they commonly occupy the same oceans. Being a tropical and sub-tropical reptile, turtles tend to stay in the warmer seas and follow the warm currents as the seasons chance in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

This means that all the seven species of turtles live in the same width band of ocean, which is mostly around the equator. Nesting grounds spread across a variety of all continents that span across the equator.

As best as I can I will divide each specie nesting grounds into “Major Nesting Grounds” and “Minor Nesting Grounds”. This will give you a great indication of the countries which beaches and shorelines are used as nesting grounds for sea turtles.

Hawksbill Turtles 

Female Hawksbill turtles will return to the same beach in which they hatched, to lay their eggs. Fortunately for this species, their nesting grounds spread across a huge width of the world, ranging from Central and South America, to Africa, Asia and Australia.

Major Nesting Ground 
  • Venezuela, 
  • French Guiana, 
  • Southeast Brazil, 
  • Costa Rica, 
  • Cuba, 
  • Dominican Republic, 
  • Egypt, 
  • Madagascar, 
  • UAE, 
  • Maldives, 
  • Malaysia, 
  • Indonesia, 
  • Papa New Guinea, 
  • New Caledonia.
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Mexico, 
  • Guatemala, 
  • Nicaragua, 
  • Honduras, 
  • Western Sahara, 
  • Senegal, 
  • Mozambique, 
  • Kenya, 
  • Sudan, 
  • Kuwait, 
  • India, 
  • Sri Lanka, 
  • Myanmar, 
  • Thailand, 
  • Singapore, 
  • Perth (Australia), 
  • Vietnam, 
  • China, 
  • Taiwan, 
  • Philipines, 
  • Solomon Islands, 
  • Marshall Islands, 
  • Fiji, 
  • Samoa, 
  • Tonga.  

Kemp Ridley Turtles

Major Nesting Grounds
  • Tamaulipas Mexico 
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Veracruz Mexico, 
  • Texas and Florida USA

Olive Ridley Turtles

Major Nesting Grounds
  • Venezuela, 
  • Westcoast Mexico, 
  • Costa Rica, 
  • Angola, 
  • Sri Lanka, 
  • Malaysia
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Brazil, 
  • Ecuador, 
  • El Salvador, 
  • Nicaragua, 
  • Oman, 
  • North Australia, 
  • Papa New Guinea  

Green Sea Turtles

Major Nesting Grounds
  • Westcoast Mexico
  • Panama
  • Ecuador 
  • Suriname
  • Brazil
  • Hawaii
  • Canary Islands
  • Kenya
  • Port Louis
  • Saint-Denis
  • Yemen
  • Pakistan
  • Maldives
  • Singapore
  • Australia
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Florida USA
  • Eastcoast Mexico
  • Caribbean Islands
  • Angola
  • Gabon
  • Morocco
  • Cote D’Ivoire
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Indonesia 
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Papa New Guinea
  • Fiji Islands
  • Philipines
  • China 
  • Taiwan
  • Japan

Leatherback turtles

Major Nesting Grounds
  • Florida USA
  • Costa Rica
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • French Guiana
  • Malaysia
  • Sunshine Coast, Australia 
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean Islands
  • South Brazil
  • Senegal
  • Cote D’Ivoire
  • Ghana
  • Angola
  • South Africa
  • Eritrea
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Myanmar
  • China
  • Papa New Guinea 
  • Solomon Islands

Loggerhead Turtles

Major Nesting Grounds
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Cyprus
  • Libya
  • Oman
  • Floria, USA
  • Perth, Australia
  • Brazil
  • South Coast Mexico
Minor Nesting Grounds
  • Northern Australia
  • Japan
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Mozambique
  • South Africa
  • Cuba

Flatback Turtles

  • North Australia ONLY

Conclusion

We hope this has helped answer any questions on “How many eggs do sea turtles lay”, and highlighted the relevant information surrounding this question.

To summarise, all the sea turtle species have different sized clutches of eggs, with an average across all species at 110 eggs. They all nest at different times of the year, however share the best and safest beaches for their eggs.

Other Related Articles You Might Like…

What Do Green Sea Turtles Eat?

What Are Turtles Predators?

Can Red Eared Sliders Breathe Underwater?

Do Box Turtles Hibernate?

Can Turtles Eat Grapes?

What Do Sea Turtles Eat?

How Long Have Leatherback Sea Turtles Roamed Our Planet?

Where Do Leatherback Sea Turtles Live?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *