Males and females migrate periodically to the breeding areas, with mating occurring at sea. During courtship, the female may display behavior of refusal, remaining upright, displaying the plastron to the male. However, such behavior only delay intercourse, since males do not give up chasing the female. When the female stops resisting and accepts the accepts the male, the male “grabs” the female with the frontal flippers, helped by the long claws and mating begins with a few love bites on the neck and shoulders. Copulation can last several hours.
Fertilization is internal and a female can nest three to five times during each breeding season, in intervals of 10 to 15 days. The female may mate with several males, and vice-versa.
After mating, males migrate to feeding areas and the females head to the beaches to nest.
It is also known that females have the ability to store the sperm of the males she mated with in the oviduct (as with other species of reptiles, eg snakes); fertilization of eggs can occur one or two months later.