When Do Sea Turtles Lay Their Eggs?

Sea turtles have an interesting and exciting nesting method. It’s a very good experience to watch a nesting sea turtle continue the cycle of life. You might be wondering when do sea turtles lay their eggs?

Sea turtles usually lay their eggs from May to September. These months often vary between species of sea turtle. Female sea turtles start to lay their eggs at the ages of 10 to 50 years old. They lay their eggs at night between 11 PM to dawn. This process can take up to 3 hours.

If you like to learn more about specific nesting times and sea turtle eggs keep reading. This guide will tell you all the facts and information you should know.

Let’s dive in.

When do sea turtles lay their eggs

When do sea turtles lay their eggs?

We have gone over many different answers to this question, but we haven’t gone in-depth yet. This question has various answers, like age, season, and time of day. We will talk about these in more detail now.

At what age do sea turtles lay eggs?

Sea turtles on average reach sexual maturity at 10 to 50 years old. This is when the females begin to lay eggs.

When the females come to beaches to nest, most return to the beaches they were born on. Others go to different beaches in the same area. They use the earth’s magnetic field and ocean currents to guide them back to the beach.

Some can also migrate to nest on different beaches. This depends on the species and where they live.

Many females can do this every year until the age of 80. Although, tracking technology has not been around long enough to confirm this.

Male sea turtles reach sexual maturity before female sea turtles. This is often a couple of years earlier.

Female sea turtles go alone when nesting, and don’t stay with their mating partners. Sea turtles mate with multiple different turtles. This contributes to the genetic diversity of the sea turtle population.

What time of year do sea turtles lay eggs?

The summer months are the most popular time for nesting. This is because the hot sand helps incubate the eggs. It also helps the nesting female regulate her temperature since they lay eggs at night.

The temperature of sand also decides the sex of the sea turtles. A green sea turtle nest produces more males at 82°F, and more females at 88°F.

Laying their eggs in summer also helps the hatchlings too. It can help them find food sources much easier.

Sea turtles also can’t keep warm by themselves. Since they are cold-blooded, they rely on the environment to keep warm. If they are in cold environments, they could become cold-stunned.

Laying their eggs during the warmer months helps the hatchlings survive. This eliminates the chance of them becoming cold-stunned and injured.

What time of day do sea turtles lay eggs?

Sea turtles nest at night to avoid predators. Since they are slower on land, this can affect their survival chances and ability to escape.

From 11 PM to dawn, the female will emerge from the ocean the travel up the beach. She will then find a suitable spot, dig a hole, and begin laying. This can take 1 to 3 hours.

They often dig nests above the high tide line. The holes are known as body pits and are bigger and deeper than the turtle itself.

From there, the sea turtle will then dig an extra hole inside called an egg cavity. This is where the eggs are laid.

The sea turtle will lay about 100 eggs per clutch. Again, this can vary from species to species. After it’s finished, it will dig the hole back up to let the eggs incubate.

Then the turtle will go back to the ocean until they nest again that season. A female sea turtle can have 2-6 nests per season.

How often do sea turtles lay clutches?

In each nesting season, a sea turtle will have 2-6 nests. These clutches are laid 2 weeks apart.

The period in between nesting seasons can last up to 9 years. Sea turtles are solitary animals that like to be alone, so they don’t breed as often.

The average female green sea turtle will lay 1,900 to 2,300 eggs during its life. Although this is a lot, many eggs are yolk and many hatchlings will be eaten by predators.

In each nest, the amount laid averages around 110 eggs. Each species has a different number of clutch sizes.

The hawksbill lays the most amount of eggs with 140 to 160 per nest. The flatback lays the least with around 50 eggs in each clutch.

Green sea turtles will lay up to 115 in a clutch. Loggerheads will lay a similar amount with an average of 112 in each clutch.

Kemp’s ridley and leatherback sea turtles will average the same amount of eggs per clutch. This is around about 110 eggs but can vary.

Do sea turtles lay eggs without a male?

The female sea turtle always goes alone when nesting. There are a couple of reasons why they do this.

A female will mate with multiple males at a time. This helps with genetic diversity, but also means the female does stay with all the males she’s mated with.

Sea turtles also don’t stay with each other and survive alone. This means that when the female is ready to nest, she goes up on her own and lay the eggs.

Once she has laid the eggs, she’ll return to the ocean. The hatchlings won’t look for or be able to recognize their parents.

Sea turtles live alone and don’t reunite with their family. They prefer to be alone and only gather during mating and nesting season.

How many eggs do sea turtles lay?

Each turtle species has different clutch numbers. More than 1300 clutches can hatch in one nesting season.

This table shows the average number of eggs in a clutch for each species. It also shows when the females will nest.

SpeciesClutch sizeNesting season
FlatbackAround 50 eggsNovember – January
GreenAround 115 eggsMay – October
HawksbillAround 140 eggsApril – November
Kemp’s RidleyAround 110 eggsApril – July
LeatherbackAround 110 eggsMarch – July
LoggerheadAround 112 eggsApril – September
Olive RidleyAround 100 eggsNovember – April

As you can see in the table above, different species have different nesting times.

Although they have large clutches, 25% of these clutches have no yolk. This means that the embryo cannot grow and will have no nutrients.

These eggs are left behind and eaten by predators. They might also be taken by poachers to be sold and consumed.

When do sea turtles stop laying eggs?

The end of nesting season varies between sea turtle species. Often, the nesting season ends at the beginning of fall.

This includes September, October, and November. Flatbacks are an exception to this as they only nest in Australia which is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Since seasons are different in the Southern Hemisphere, the flatback nesting season ends in March, April, and May. This is when it starts to get colder in Australia.

In conclusion

Sea turtles begin laying eggs at 10 to 50 years old. This is when they have reached sexual maturity.

They will then lay their eggs in the summer months. They lay their eggs at night to avoid predators.

Sea turtles will lay 2-6 eggs each season. These clutches can have up to 180 eggs, but not all of them will survive.

Female sea turtles will go alone when nesting. The hatchlings will not recognize their parents once they reach the ocean. They will also not look for them.

Sea turtles will lay up to 1300 clutches per season. They will then stop laying eggs at the beginning of the fall.

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