Submit A Report - Turtle Watch In-Water
Please use this form to submit your turtle observations while diving or snorkeling on the reef.
Sea Turtles of Belize
Photo Courtesy Linda Searle
Hawksbill turtles can be distinguished by their 4 pairs of overlapping lateral scutes and hawk-like beak. They have 2 pairs of pre-frontal scales and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Their favorite habitat is coral reefs where they spend the day looking for their favorite food - sponges. Juvenile and adult hawksbill sea turtles are found throughout Belize.
Photo Courtesy Daniel Rimkus
According to Christopher Columbus "green sea turtles were once so abundant they covered the seas." they eat! They are the second largest sea turtle and can weigh up to 500 pounds. They can be easily identified by their 4 pairs of lateral scutes and single pair of pre-frontal scales. Green turtles are actually named after the color of their fat which is probably attributable to all the sea grass. Juveniles and adults can be found on reefs and over seagrass beds throughout Belize, and are regularly observed at Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Male loggerhead sea turtle photographed off South Water Caye. Notice the large tail that extends beyond the carapace which indicates he is a male turtle. Photo Courtesy Gary Gaston
Loggerhead turtles can be distinguished by their large head. They can weigh up to 450 pounds and their shell can be up to 3.5 feet in length. They have 5 pairs of lateral scutes. They are found cruising coral reefs looking for crustaceans and mollusks. Juvenile loggerheads are not common in Belize so sighting of this size would be VERY important.
Photo Courtesy Pretoma
Leatherback turtles are the only sea turtle that has a soft shell. They are the largest of all sea turtles and can weigh up to a ton and have shells of up to 8 feet in length! They are easily identifiable by their size, soft carapace and prominent ridges on their carapace. They swim through the open ocean and feed primarily on jellyfish. These are occasionally seen in the open ocean and in the Victoria Channel which extends along the coast from Robinson Point to Monkey River.
Olive Ridley Turtle
Photo Courtesy Michael Jensen
The range of olive ridley turtles was not thought to extend to the waters of Belize but in early 2011, a stranded olive ridley was found floating in discarded fishing gear near Hol Chan Marine Reserve. She was rehabilitated and released 4 months later. Olive ridleys can be distinguished by the disk-shape of their shell. They are a small turtle weighing 75-100 pounds on average with a shell length of about 2 feet. Olive ridleys are omnivores that can be found near coral reefs and in the open sea.
Kemp's Ridley Turtle
Photo Courtesy Andrea McCracken
The Kemp's Ridley is the rarest of all sea turtles and has not yet been spotted in Belize. They are small like the Olive Ridely and have and oval shell. 95% of all nestings of Kemp's Ridley turtles occur on a beach on the east coast of Mexico in large groups known as arribadas. They love to hang out in places with muddy, sandy bottoms where they can find their favorite food of crustaceans and molluscs.