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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Marine Turtles of the Maldives – Keep an Eye out for Them
Joanna James Joanna James
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Marine Turtles of the Maldives – Keep an Eye out for Them

Your holiday to Maldives will be the most memorable if you get the chance to spot a marine turtle while snorkelling or scuba diving or even if they're simply swimming around.



Hawksbill turtles are the most common types of turtles that can be spotted if you're snorkelling in Maldives. Hawksbill turtles are on the list of critically endangered species due to various reasons, from the impact of human pollution of the ocean, being hunted and poached for their shells, meat and eggs. These turtles grow to a length of 1 m at the adult stage and weigh up to 80 kg! The amber coloured shell has an irregular pattern of dark and light streaks along it, with mixed colours of brown and black on the sides. Hawksbill turtles have a hooked beak shaped mouth; which makes it easy to distinguish it from other types of turtles. Hawksbill turtles are solitary in nature and are only known to meet other turtles of the kind once they reach sexual maturity of 20 years. Some resorts such as Niyama Private Islands Maldives organises snorkelling tours and if you happen to meet one of these turtles, remember not to get too close to the turtles or try to interact with them.


Green turtle

Green turtles are the second common type found in the Maldives archipelago, as there have been recorded instances of them nesting around a number of atolls. Green turtles have a wide and smooth shell and is usually found swimming in sub tropical and tropical waters are can often been seen sunbathing on land. Its name is derived due to the colour of his skin as opposed to the colour of the shell. They can grow up to 5 feet in length and weigh up to 700 pounds. Green turtles are an endangered species due to a number of various reasons; similar to the ones mentioned with the reduction of hawksbill turtles, where they are poached and hunted for their meat, shell and eggs. They also quite often die due to being caught in fishnets and boat propeller accidents. Old Green turtles snack on algae and sea grasses while the younger ones are known to eat creatures like jellyfish, crabs etc.



If you happen to spot a letterhead turtle, consider yourself VERY lucky, as though sighting of these species are not common, there are off chances where divers and snorkelers have seen leatherheads swimming in the waters around Maldives. It derives its name due to the texture of the shell; which is quite rubbery and flexible – unlike shells of other turtles. With ridges along its shell, this aids the turtle to swim to a depth of 4,200 feet which also makes it able to stay underwater for around 85 minutes – which what makes it quite a rare sighting. Like the other types of turtles mentioned above, the leatherhead is also under the list of endangered species.


Olive Ridley

Named for its olive shell and skin, Olive Ridley turtles are found in warmer waters of the world. Quite smaller than other turtle types, the Olive Ridley only grows to about 2 feet in the length.



Till date, there has only been one confirmed sighting of a loggerhead in Maldives. Loggerheads grow to the length of about 3.5 feet and can weigh up to 170 kg! Their heart shaped shell with reddish brown patterns is easily distinguishable from other turtles.