Why do sea turtles cry when they lay eggs?
Although it appears that sea turtles cry when they lay eggs, they don't. It indeed seems like they cry, but they flush sand and salt from their eyes. Sea turtles have a gland in each eye that helps them to maintain the right balance of salt in their bodies. This gland is called a "Salt Gland".
When we think of sea turtles, we may picture them swimming gracefully through the ocean. However, did you know that these amazing creatures have some fascinating adaptations to help them survive in their salty environment? One such adaptation is the salt gland.
Sea turtles live in saltwater, which means their bodies are exposed to high levels of salt. Unlike mammals, turtles have less efficient kidneys, which cannot produce urine with a higher concentration of salt than the seawater they drink regularly. This means they need another way to rid their bodies of excess salt.
Enter the salt gland. Located in the turtle's eyes, these glands pump salt ions into their tears, which are then excreted from the body. You may have heard that sea turtles "cry" when they lay eggs, but in reality, they are excreting excess salt from their bodies. This is a natural and healthy process for them, and they do it all the time - not just when laying eggs.
But how exactly do salt glands work?
The glands use a process called active secretion, where they actively pump salt ions from the turtle's bloodstream into their tears. This process is energy-intensive and requires a lot of blood flow to the glands. As a result, the glands are only active when necessary, such as when the turtle needs to rid their body of excess salt.
Now that we understand salt glands let's take a closer look at how sea turtles lay their eggs. Unlike most reptiles that lay eggs on land, sea turtles will only lay their eggs on the shore. In the last few weeks of gestation, the turtle will come to the land and use their flippers to dig a nest, in which they will deposit their eggs.
They prefer a sunny spot with sandy soil to make an adequate nest for their babies. An interesting fact is that if the weather is too warm, the sea turtle delays the process of digging the nest for a few days or even weeks, until the weather is suitable for laying the eggs - colder.
After the eggs are laid, the sea turtle's job as a mother is finished. She will get back in the water, letting the babies survive on their own from now on. Scientists have discovered that turtles use to lay eggs in the same time and place every time. The nesting process takes up to a few hours, and once the eggs are deposited, the mother turtle will leave the nest.
Have you ever wondered if a turtle can lay eggs without mating? The answer is yes, a female sea turtle can lay eggs without being fertilized by a male. However, those infertile eggs will not hatch. Wild turtles lay eggs in the spring, as a response to the temperature rise and light cycle changes. The environment dictates when it is the perfect time for laying eggs. In the case of pet turtles, this rule does not apply because they have a steady climate, and their environment does not change dramatically to provoke a natural response for laying eggs. As a result, pet turtles can lay eggs all year round.
In conclusion, sea turtles have some amazing adaptations to help them survive in their saltwater environment, such as the salt gland. Understanding these adaptations can help us appreciate these incredible creatures even more. Next time you see a sea turtle, remember all the fascinating things that make them unique.