Avoiding predation

A sea turtle’s shell offers great protection to its owner. However, there are predators with razor sharp teeth that are not deterred by the hardness of the carapace and still present themselves as a threat to the sea turtles. The bites are not always deadly, and I have seen more than one turtle with a cookie bite-shaped chunk of its shell missing. The culprit was of course a shark.

An Olive Ridley with a small cookie bite in its shell

An Olive Ridley with a small cookie bite in its shell (above the hind left flipper)

Interesting footage recently published, shows that turtles also have behavioral strategies to avoid predation by sharks.

A first strategy is to roll sideways when a shark attacks. By doing so, the turtle presents the shark with a wide and hard surface that the shark has not angle to attack. Effectively, the turtle is using its shell as a shield that prevents it from fitting into the predator’s mouth.

A second strategy is to swim in tight circles near the shark. The larger body size of the shark does not allow it to turn as sharply and follow the turtle. By doing this, the turtle prevents the shark from closing in on the turtle and catching it. Clever!

Video courtesy of AnimalBytesTV and PRETOMA

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