Outside of the breeding season, sea turtles may migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. They can sleep at the surface when they are in open water or under rocks on the bottom in areas near the coast.
After they hatch, the hatchlings emerge from the nest and crawl quickly towards the sea, spending the next hours in a swimming frenzy looking for oceanic currents, where they will be safer from predators, and may find more prey items.
During a long period, called the “lost years”, it is thought that the young perform pelagic migrations associated with sargassum banks in areas of converging currents. After they reach a certain size, these juveniles are ready to return to coastal waters.
Sea turtles often spend their juvenile life stage feeding and growing in coastal waters. Both female and male turtles, once they reach maturity, migrate from their feeding grounds to the breeding areas near the nesting beaches to mate. Adult females will then swim towards the chosen beach to nest.
The several migrations that take place between the different life stages, as well as between foraging and reproductive grounds can be extensive, and are continuous throughout the turtle’s life.