Sea Turtle Migration: Why Is It Necessary?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Many of us do not know that sea turtles are migrating creatures. These creatures travel from one place to another for most of their lives. But why is migration necessary for sea turtles?

It seems that the sea turtle’s life cycle is incomplete without migrations. Sea turtles migrate more often,

  • To find a suitable foraging ground
  • To return to the nesting place
  • To get mature and breed
  • To warm water

Catch the different migration patterns in sea turtles in the article below.

Sea Turtle Migration: Why Is It Necessary?

Sea turtles migrate between their nesting and foraging areas several times. Not only that, these turtles occasionally even migrate to warm waters. Migration is so important for these turtles that they travel thousands of miles.

Here are the probable reasons why sea turtles migrate so often,

In Search Of Foraging Ground

Migration starts at an early age for these turtles. The hatches head towards the sea right after coming out of the eggs. There they go with the current and find a shelter with grass and other food sources. Babies tend to live in such areas for a couple of years.

Once the baby sea turtles get bigger, about the size of a dinner plate, they start exploring different habitats. These creatures migrate from one foraging ground to another.

The migration direction depends on the food habits of the sea turtle species. For example, green sea turtles are totally herbivores. So, they look for shallow grass beds, while the Hawksbill prefers coastal reefs. On the other hand, Leatherback sea turtles migrate to the open seas.

Return To Mate And Nest

Scientists have been able to track the migration behavior of sea turtles with satellite telemetry. According to their findings, sea turtles return to their birthplace for mating and nesting. After the breeding season, they again migrate to the foraging area.

Why do sea turtles migrate to their birthplace for breeding and nesting? The answer is still unknown. But the researchers think these creatures can navigate to the exact location by sensing the sea wave, water chemistry, and magnetic field.

Sea Turtle Life Cycle

According to scientists, leatherback sea turtles have a light pink spot on top of their heads, right in front of the brain. This spot is significant in these creatures’ lives as it keeps them aware of the night and day cycle. Also, it keeps them updated about the temperature and weather. As a result, the turtles understand when to migrate.

Daily Migration

Besides this seasonal migration, sea turtles also do daily migrations. For example, during the day, these creatures will be heading towards shallow water with food sources. On the other hand, during the night, they will travel to deep water for sleep.

Compared to seasonal migrations, daily migrations are short distances.

Avoiding Cold Water

Winter in the open ocean can be harsh. Being cold-blooded creatures, sea turtles do not handle cold very well.

So, when winter arrives, these turtles travel toward warm water zones. This is another reason behind the sea turtle’s migration.

Migration Patterns In Sea Turtles

Different sea turtles show different patterns of migration. For example,  

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback sea turtles are known for migrating thousands of miles every year to find suitable foraging areas with jellyfish. This species will migrate from Caribbean beaches to the USA’s east coast and Canada in the Atlantic. While in the Pacific, these turtles travel from Indonesia and Malaysia to California and even Alaska.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Loggerhead sea turtles of Japan show slightly different migration behavior. These turtles start their migration journey before reaching sexual maturity and travel about 8000 miles to Baja, California, Mexico.

Loggerhead sea turtles forage and mature in that area. These loggerhead sea turtles return to their birthplace once they become sexually active.


Sea turtle migration might not seem important even to us. But it has greater significance for these creatures. For example, sea turtles can not participate in mating without migration. Also, traveling allows these creatures to explore new foraging grounds.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.