Your Guide To Turtles in Belize
Turtles are often a topic of discussion when it comes to gorgeous marine life and protecting the environment, and a very lucky few of us are actually able to see them in person in countries like Belize, Mexico, and even Japan. If you’re planning on taking a trip to Belize to see these beautiful turtles in person, or even have the chance to swim alongside them, here’s a handy guide to what types of turtles you may encounter!
The Green Sea Turtle
The green sea turtle, also known as the black sea turtle or pacific green turtle, is the most common and easily identifiable of the sea turtles in Belize. While many people find the green sea turtle very cute, its overall size can be overwhelming when first encountered in person; the green sea turtle spans up to 39 inches (99 cm) in length and up to 330lbs (150 kg) in weight.
Named after its many colours, green sea turtles often have yellow undersides and shells varying in colour from green to black, grey, and brown. These turtles are a treasure to the Caribbean ocean and have incredible navigational skills, however, they are endangered in most parts of the world which is why it’s absolutely crucial to respect them and give them the space that they deserve.
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The second of the three sea turtles you may encounter while diving in Belize is the Hawksbill sea turtle. This beautiful sea turtle is fairly easy to identify due to its four overlapping scutes (bony external plates) on the side of its shell and its hawk-like beak for fishing and eating. Once considered close to extinction due to 20th-century hunting for their shells, close monitoring and activism toward the wellbeing of the Hawkbeak sea turtle have caused them to be the most abundant sea turtle in Belize!
What makes the Hawksbill sea turtle unique, but also vulnerable to predators is its tradition of climbing onto the beaches surrounding the Caribbean ocean to lay their eggs, who then must hatch and find their way back to the water for safety. You can often spot these turtles eating their favourite food in the whole ocean: sea sponges!
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle is the turtle you’re least likely to see while in Belize, however, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for them. Divers can recognize a loggerhead sea turtle from its reddish-brown shell, elongated body, and most recognizably, its large head from which it gets its name. Loggerhead sea turtles’ heads grow up to 10 inches (25cm) in width, and similar to the green turtle, the Loggerhead can grow up to 300lbs (136 kg).
Similar again to the Hawksbill sea turtle, the Loggerhead sea turtle lays its eggs in the sand to provide its embryos with the oxygen they need to survive, and interestingly enough, the temperature of a Hawksbill sea turtle’s nest can determine which sex their babies will be. Unfortunately, similar to the Hawksbill turtle, creating a nest on land put the mother, the eggs, and the hatching babies at risk of predators, which is why it’s important to respect the turtles and turtle nests you may come across while in Belize.
Dreaming of swimming with these beautiful turtles?
Just 30 miles from Belize City, Belize Dive Haven is located in pristine Turneffe Atoll. Consisting of creeks, lagoons, mangrove islands and cays, the atoll is home to over 500 species of fish, 65 different species of stony corals as well as birds, turtles, manatees and dolphins.