> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Reptilia
seen? Adult sea turtles are sometimes sighted near our
Southern Islands. While there have been several incidents of baby
sea turtles hatching on our shores, including East Coast Park!
Features: Marine turtles are air-breathing
reptiles that live out at sea. They only return to land to lay their
eggs on sandy beaches. Superbly adapated to life at sea, the sea turtles
limbs are modified into oar-like flippers. As adults many migrate,
some for very long distances. Studies show that sea turtles found
in Singapore waters may nest on shores in our neighbouring countries,
and possibly visa versa.
Globally, there are 7 sea turtle species belonging to two families.
The two species most commonly encountered in Singapore are the Green
turtle and the Hawksbill turtle.
turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata): To about 90cm.
Its jaws are distinctly hook-shaped and are used to crunch crabs
and shells. The edge of the shell towards the back is serrated
and not smooth. It eats mainly sponges but also other animals.
It is found near reefs. This is the sea turtle that is harvested
for its shell, used in 'tortoise shell' products.
Green turtle (Chelonia
mydas): To about 1.5m or more. Jaws are not hooked shaped
and the edge of shell is smooth. Their common name arose from
the colour of the cartilage and fat deposits around their internal
organs. Adults eat mainly or only seagrasses and thus found near
coastal areas with seagrass meadows. Juveniles are omnivorous
and eat seaweeds, crabs and squid.
baby sea turtles: In recent years, there were incidents
of sea turtle hatchlings going in the 'wrong' direction when they
emerged from the sandy shores of East Coast Park. Why do they do
this? Baby sea turtles' natural instinct is to head towards the
sea. In nature, starlight and moonlight on the water would guide
them in the right direction. However, in urbanised shores like ours,
light from our parks, streets and other human activities disorientate
them. As a result, they head in the wrong direction and usually
come to a sad end.
What to do with sea turtles stranded on
the beach? If you spot any sea turtles on our shores,
call the Police or NParks (Helpline number: 1800 4717300, or any
other emergency number that you can see posted on signage in the
park). They will then activate the Standard Operating Procedure
to rescue them.
Status and threats: Our sea
turtles are listed as 'Critically Endangered' on the Red List of
threatened animals of Singapore. These species are also globally
'Critically Endangered'. Globally, sea turtles are threatened by
overharvesting of their eggs, and as adults for their meat and shells.
Sea turtles also drown when trapped in fishing lines and nets, and
die a slow and painful death when they accidentally eat plastic
bags and other marine debris. Their nesting beaches are also lost
to reclamation or affected by coastal development, light and chemical
pollution and other human activities nearby.
Kusu Island, Sep 13
shared by Leong Chin Rick on facebook.
sea turtle found resting
in the man-made lagoon.
Sisters Island, Jul 10
shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her
sea turtle seen in the man-made lagoon.
They were eventually released into the sea.
Kusu Island, Sep 09
(serrated edge of shell at the back).
turtle seen attempting to lay eggs.
East Coast Park, Jul 13
shared by David Tan on facebook.
Semakau, Nov 07
Coast Park, May 06
shared by Sivasothi on his
hawksbill turtle hatchlings.
for lost Hawksbill hatchlings.
turtles recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
*Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common
Marine Fishes of Singapore.
in red are those listed among the threatened
animals of Singapore from Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L.
Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened
plants and animals of Singapore.
caretta (Loggerhead sea turtle)
Chelonia mydas (Green sea
turtle) (CR: Critically Endangered)
Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill
turtle) (CR: Critically Endangered)
coriacea (Leatherback turtle)
sea turtle sightings in Singapore
- Lim, Kelvin
K. P. & Francis L K Lim, 1992. A
Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Singapore Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
- Cox, Merel
J., Peter Paul van Dijk, Jarujin Nabhitabhata and Kumthorn Thirakhupt.
Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Thailand, Peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.