Natator – Flatback Turtle
The only sea turtle exclusive to Australia
Exclusively found in the waters surrounding Australia, the flatback has adapted remarkably to its environment, showcasing traits that make it uniquely Australian. Unlike its more widely roaming cousins, the flatback sea turtle has a distinctively flat, olive-gray shell, resembling a pancake topped with flippers, which aids in its streamlined swimming.
The underbelly of the flatback is a pale yellow, reflecting its gentle nature and adding a splash of brightness to its appearance. Its small head and upturned eyes contribute to its endearing look and enhance its vision in murky waters. This sea turtle’s preference for shallow coastal waters near coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves aligns with its feeding habits. The flatback’s diet primarily consists of soft-bodied marine creatures such as jellyfish, squid, sea cucumbers, and shrimp, making it an important predator in maintaining the health and balance of its marine ecosystem.
The flatback sea turtle can dive up to 60 meters (197 feet) and remain submerged for up to 30 minutes, the flatback sea turtle demonstrates a remarkable ability to explore and exploit a range of underwater habitats. This adaptability ensures it can access a diverse diet, crucial for its survival and reproduction.
There’s limited knowledge of the population trends and conservation status of flatback turtles, leading to uncertainty about their risk of extinction. However, the Australian government classifies them as vulnerable, suggesting potential threats similar to those faced by other sea turtle species, which are at risk of extinction.