What’s under the shell? Turtle Tales

What’s under the shell? Turtle Tales

Turtle. Image courtesy Wiki commons

On World Turtle Day, we remember the gentle, free-spirited creatures that inhabit the oceans of the world. Though it should be a day of celebration, it is overshadowed by the rapid decline of turtle species around the globe. Nearly all species are facing extinction due to poaching, habitat destruction, climate change and over-exploitation of the oceans.

Annually, India witnesses mass nesting of the Olive Ridley Turtles. Sadly, it has been listed as a 'vulnerable' species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List in the past decade.  In a recent effort, the Versova beach of Mumbai was cleaned up to welcome the Olive Ridley Turtles home after two decades! Similarly, animal welfare groups in Odisha released 5,000 Olive Ridley hatchlings into the sea on the eve of World Turtle Day.

On this day, we bring you some interesting facts about the shelly creatures we love so much!

Turtle is the common name given to all the animals in the order ‘Chelonia’. They comprise all reptiles that lay eggs, have scales and are cold blooded. 

Turtles have been known to inhabit the Earth even before dinosaurs. The oldest Sea Turtle fossils date back to over 200 million years.

A turtle’s shell is made up of over 50 bones and cartilage that make up their ribcage and spine. The shells also have nerves embedded in them.

A turtle’s shell is not an accessory that it can take off. As turtles grow with them attached to their body, the shells grow in size with them.

Turtles don’t have teeth. They do however have very sharp beaks and are capable of biting your fingers off!

Turtles also don’t have ears. But they do have eardrums that are very sensitive to vibrations.

Some turtles can rock extremely cool hairstyles like the Mary River Turtle that has a green mohawk.


The temperature of nesting grounds determines the sex of the hatchlings. Warm temperatures produce female turtles, while colder temperatures result in male turtles.

Mother turtles travel to the nesting grounds they were born in to lay their own eggs, after which they return to the sea. It’s up to the baby turtles to voyage back into the water while avoiding predators.

The collective noun for turtles is ‘bale.’ 

Like the legendary Master Oogway, turtles can live up to 100 years.


You can determine the sex of a turtle by looking at its tail. Male turtles often have a small 'V’ or notch at the rear end of their shell and have lean, long tails. Females, on the other hand, have rounder, smaller and more star-shaped tails than the males.