What Does A Sea Turtle Symbolize? [In Different Cultures]

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Sea turtles have roamed in the earth’s oceans for millions of years. Hence, they have become a powerful symbol of many cultures that have existed in the world. Sea turtles mean different things in different cultures and religions. So, what do sea turtles symbolize?

In most cultures, sea turtles symbolize longevity, patience, endurance, and wisdom. In some cultures, such as the Native American culture, sea turtles are considered lucky. Sea turtles are also related to creation myths in different cultures and religions. 

In this article, I will explain the different meanings of sea turtles and what they symbolize in different cultures. 

What Does a Sea Turtle Symbolize?

Because of their simple nature and lifestyle, sea turtles have become spiritual symbols. They can inspire a person to gain many virtues. Here is what a sea turtle symbolizes: 

1. Longevity

Sea turtles symbolize longevity. On average, sea turtles can live up to 50 years. If the conditions are in their favor, they can live up to 80 years! Besides, they reach maturity at the age of thirty, which is much later than humans. 

The age of sea turtles is not the only thing that makes them a symbol of longevity. The species have existed in the world for 250 million years! So, if you want a long life, you can always take inspiration from a sea turtle’s lifestyle. Adapt the qualities of sea turtles that enable them to exist for so long in this world. 

2. Patience and Perseverance 

Sea turtles are revered as the symbol of patience and perseverance. People often misunderstand turtles to be lazy as turtles are very slow on the land. But sea turtles in the water can be incredibly fast

However, they do not waste their energy by rushing things. They are calm and patient. They may seem careless and go with the flow. But they set their goals and patiently reach for their goal while enjoying things around them. 

Being patient is a great virtue. You can learn to be patient and determined to achieve your goals while enjoying the journey from a sea turtle.  

3. Endurance  

Sea turtles are also known for their endurance and tolerance. They have survived for millions of years in this harsh world. It shows much hardship they can tolerate and still exist. 

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Sea turtles endure many obstacles in their life. Their struggle for life starts right after their birth. The baby sea turtles have to rust towards the sea while being the target of many predators on the seashore. They have to endure attacks from predatory creatures like seagulls, crabs, sharks, and others to reach their final destination. 

Hence, sea turtles are the symbol of endurance for their firm resolve. We can learn from sea turtles to be strong, face all the hardships in life, and move forward. 

4. Wisdom 

Sea turtles symbolize wisdom. They have survived in this world against all the odds for millions of years. Moreover, they live a long life. As we know, with age comes wisdom. 

Sea turtles are like wise old people who have gained knowledge going through many hardships in their life. Sea turtles have survived in the depths of the oceans for this long because of their experience and wisdom.  

They may seem to wander around the ocean, but they always have their destination in mind. In fact, sea turtles are one of the wisest and best navigators among sea animals. Therefore, you can always look up to sea turtles for wisdom when you feel lost in life.  

5. Peace And Tranquility

Sea turtles are peaceful animals. They prefer to be alone and live a simple life. They rarely attack other animals in the sea. Even when they are attacked by predators, they choose to escape instead of fighting back. 

The diet of sea turtles is also simple. They prefer jellyfish or seagrass. These peaceful creatures have their food and quietly leave when they are done. They become one with the surrounding environment, so they are able to avoid getting attention from other animals. 

Because of their simple behavior, sea turtles have become a symbol of peace in many cultures. 

6. Protection

In many cultures, like the Native American and Hawaiian cultures, sea turtles symbolize protection. The Native Americans use sea turtle shells to protect their babies by keeping medicines on the shells.

The shell of sea turtles represents unwavering strength and resolve in many cultures. The shells protect sea turtles from the harsh condition of the oceans and dangerous predators. 

Sea turtles also symbolize strength as they remain calm and brave in danger. We should also be like sea turtles. Like sea turtles, we should protect ourselves from danger through our inner strength and determination to live.   

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7. Good Luck

Sea turtles are often associated with good luck, abundance, and fortune. Many voyagers in the sea believe that seeing a sea turtle on their journey is a sign of good fortune and that the journey will be fruitful. 

Sea turtles are rarely seen out of the water. If you are lucky to see a sea turtle, you might have some rare opportunities in the near future that can change your life. It also means you must get out of your comfort zone to find the blessing. 

A sea turtle is also seen as a symbol of fertility. The female sea turtles travel thousands of miles to return to the seashore and lay eggs. A single sea turtle nest can contain 80 to 120 eggs! This is how sea turtles have survived on the earth for so long. They are determined to produce their offspring to continue the existence of their species.  

If you want to extend your family, you may observe life of a sea turtle. You will be inspired to see how much effort sea turtles give to bring their children into the world. 

What Sea Turtles Symbolize in Different Cultures 

Turtles symbolize many things in almost all religions and cultures in the world. They are revered as a symbol of longevity, wisdom, peace, and steadfastness. In many cultures, sea turtles are associated explicitly with creation myths. 

Here is what sea turtles symbolize in different cultures: 

Hindu Mythology

Turtles are associated with the world creation myth in Hindu culture. According to Hindu mythology, the earth, including the sea, rests upon four elephants, and the elephants stand on a giant turtle’s back. 

The cosmic turtle is known as Akupāra. It is also called Kurma which is an avatar of Vishnu. Hence, turtles are sacred in Hindu culture as they symbolize the sustainers of life on earth. 

North American Culture

Similar to Hindu mythology, Native Americans associate turtles with creation folklore. In this culture, sea turtles represent mother earth. According to Native American lore, a giant turtle volunteered to carry the world on its back. Thus, North America is called ‘Turtle Island.’ Hence, the turtle also symbolizes endurance. 

The Native Americans also believe sea turtles symbolize good luck, health, and security. 

Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, turtles symbolize protection, endurance, divine power, longevity, and wisdom. Chinese people also believe that turtles signify good luck and health. They believe placing a turtle statue in their house brings good fortune and health to the family members. 

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Even in Chinese culture, sea turtles are related to the creation myth. According to Chinese mythology, Mount Buzhou used to support the heavens. But the Chinese water god Gong Gong once damaged Mount Buzhou. 

Then the creator goddess Nüwa chopped off the legs of a huge sea turtle called Ao. She used the turtle’s legs to support the sky. 

Japanese Culture

Sea turtles are divine creatures in Japanese culture. In Japanese culture, sea turtles symbolize longevity, wisdom, and contentment.  

According to Japanese mythology, Konpira Gongen is the god of sailors, and sea turtles are the symbolic representation of the god. In many Japanese mythological tales, there is a mention of a giant turtle known as the minogame. 

Minogame lived for thousands of years. Many believed minogame had a long hairy tale. However, it was probably seaweed and algae accumulated for a long time on the turtle’s shell. This mythical turtle has been depicted as the symbol of longevity and wisdom in Japanese art, craft, and literature. 

Hawaiian and Celtic Culture

Sea turtles have great significance in both Hawaiian and Celtic cultures. Turtles symbolize longevity, protection, and good luck. 

In Hawaiian cultures, sea turtles are the messengers of gods and a connection between heaven and earth. Some sources also say that sea turtles are symbols of connection between the past and the present. 

In Celtic culture myths, sea turtles are shape-shifters. They often took the shape of humans or other animals to help and protect humans from dangers. Moreover, seeing sea turtles on the seashore is a good sign. 

Christianity

Sea turtles have different meanings to Christians. But sea turtles are mostly associated with patience, endurance, and wisdom. In the Bible, turtles are linked with the afterlife. It is said that a turtle shows how souls will travel to either heaven or hell. 

On the other hand, sea turtles also have some negative symbolism in Christianity. The shell on the turtle’s back represents the burden of the sinners. Some Christians view turtles as the symbol of evil, unclean spirits, and combat.  

Before You Go

Want to know more about turtle symbolism? Then you should check out my next article here:

What Is The Meaning Of Different Turtle Symbols?

What Does It Mean When A Turtle Crosses Your Path?

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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.

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