How Do Turtles Reproduce?

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Turtle reproduction process begins a couple of weeks before the nesting season. Two or more males may court a female at the same time. They copulate in the water; a few weeks later, the female emerges onto a beach at night to lay and bury between 50 to 200 eggs in the sand. Females nest every two or three years and can lay up to nine clutches each season.

Female sea turtles often emerge alone during high tide to lay their eggs. Using their front flippers, they dig a body pit and then create an egg cavity using their hind flippers. The eggs are surrounded in a thick, clear mucus that helps protect them. The females bury their eggs to keep them moist, hide them from predators, and maintain the correct temperature. The entire process can take over two hours, after which the females return to the water.

Sea turtles reach sexual maturity when they reach a certain size though some species continue to grow. The exact carapace size varies by species, with hawksbills reaching up to 37 inches. The age also varies dramatically across species; hawksbills can reach sexual maturity as early as three years, while green sea turtles can take up to 50 years.