A flatback sea turtle on the beach.
© Chloe Schauble
Flatback sea turtles only nest along the northern coast of Australia, and only occur on the continental shelf
between Australia and Indonesia/Papua New Guinea. At no point in their lives do they leave this nesting range. They were finally described as a separate species approximately 20 years ago, as they were previously thought to be a type of green turtle.
Flatbacks have a unique physiology that allows them to stay active underwater for longer periods than most other species. However, they have never been photographed underwater as adults, mainly because the areas where they swim are murky and inhabited by crocodiles, making diving unsafe. Flatbacks are prey for saltwater crocodiles.
Nesting only on northern coast of Australia; unlike other sea turtle species, lacks an oceanic (i.e. open-ocean) life stage; thus, all life stages occur on continental shelf north of Australian continent.
Body size (adults)
Length 80-95 cm; mass up to 200 kg
For all life stages, mostly benthic invertebrates (e.g. crabs of all types, other crustaceans; mollusks) and sometimes jellies
Every 2-4 yr; ~2-3 clutches of eggs per season; 50-70 eggs per clutch; eggs ~70-80 grams (billiard ball size); hatchlings emerge after ~60 days of incubation (are ~45mm in length and weigh ~40 grams)