How Long Can Sea Turtles Hold Their Breath?

How Long Can Sea Turtles Hold Their Breath? Sea turtles can hold their breath for upto two hours. They have to swim to the surface of the water every few minutes when they are moving around.

How Long Can Sea Turtles Hold Their Breath?

What Is Turtle?

The order Testudines contains tortoises. Turtles have the most sophisticated shells of any animal, from invertebrates to mammals. Carapace and ulna are turtle shell components (plastron).

Carapace and plastron create a hard skeletal cage on either side of the body. The turtle keeps this bony and cartilaginous cage for life. Turtles can’t get out of their shell since it’s part of their body. All continents except Antarctica have at least 356 freshwater and saltwater turtle species.

Despite tortoises’ different physical characteristics, the family Testudinidae has historically included box turtles and wood turtles. Malaclemys terrapin is the most common terrapin in the eastern U.S.

When Do Sea Turtles Breathe?

If they are active, sea turtles may hold their breath for several hours. They can sleep underwater for several hours if they choose to. Swimming in frigid water in the winter allows them to hold their breath for up to seven hours.

A small amount of physical activity is required. However, during regular activity, turtles may hold their breath for up to an hour and a half, although they typically dive for 4-5 minutes before coming to the surface for a few seconds to air.

Note: Stressed turtles, for example, quickly deplete their oxygen reserves and may drown within minutes if they are unable to get to the top.

How Frequently Do Sea Turtles Need to Take a Breath?

Hibernating bears, on average, only need air once every seven hours during the winter months. Every 30 minutes or so, depending on the activity, sea turtles must take a breather. If a sea turtle is resting or sleeping, it may go without taking a breath for up to seven hours.

However, despite having a maximum breathing capacity of 40-45 minutes, they usually surface every 5-10 minutes. This is because sea turtles prefer not to overexert themselves. If they stay underwater for a long period, they might die. Unforeseen circumstances might lead to this outcome.

Stress, for example, might cause sea turtles to lose a lot of their oxygen. When sea turtles are evading predators, they might also use up their oxygen supply. Lactic acid levels will soar, posing a danger to marine turtles due to its toxicity.

Keep in mind: Some turtles can’t swim and don’t make it to the top in time. Every few minutes, they rise to take a breath of fresh air.

How Can Turtles Hold Their Breath for So Long Underwater?

Turtles can hold their breath underwater for considerably longer than humans, as we’ve already established. This is due to three key factors. A turtle’s respiratory system is considerably different from our own since turtles have a completely distinct skeleton and muscular system.

Many species of turtles, such as freshwater turtles, can absorb oxygen through their cloaca, a chamber present in many vertebrates and invertebrates that serves a variety of functions. To get the oxygen they require without having to breathe, they use their cloaca to absorb it.

Turtles can hold their breath for such a long period because they have external nares located above their mouth. They don’t have to rise above the surface to breathe since their nares are located above the mouth.


Their nares are just exposed to the air when they walk straight up to it. As a result, even though the turtle appears to be holding its breath, it is breathing.

Why Can Sea Turtles Stay Underwater Longer?

The capacity of sea turtles to maintain their oxygen levels when submerged in water has been the subject of careful study by researchers.

  • Sea turtles, like all other turtles on the earth, are unable to breathe underwater and require air to survive.

  • Despite this requirement, sea turtles can thrive in perilous seas.

  • Because of fundamental differences in their biology, sea turtles can remain submerged for significantly longer periods compared to other species of turtles.

  • Because of evolution, sea turtles have adapted their metabolism such that it slows down if they hold their breath.

  • This enables them to preserve energy and remain submerged for extended periods.

  • Turtles that live in saltwater don’t put too much pressure on themselves, just like their freshwater counterparts.


The majority of turtles will remain under for anywhere between five and 10 minutes before returning to the surface for a little period to breathe. They will need to come up for air more frequently if they are under stress or if they are engaging in more physical activity.

Can Sea Turtles Drown?

Swimming is second nature to turtles. Sea turtles are the only species that can dive far deeper than other creatures. It is not unusual for sea turtles to perish in the water. To breathe, these creatures must emerge from the water.

They perish if they get into the water. Scientists believe that two factors contributed to the deaths of sea turtles. Turtles can be trapped in a ghost net for fish or crabs, or in between two rocks.

Turtles in the ocean strive to find a way out of their limited habitats. A startled turtle quickly consumes the oxygen it has saved. So they all drown. Another factor contributing to the deaths of sea turtles is courtship. Turtles spend a long time mating at the depths of the ocean. Using their shells as a platform, males mount females.


It’s hard for women to handle their husbands’ burdens. After a long time of mating, couples have to come up for air. Turtles drown if they can’t get to the surface. According to a recent study, sea turtles commonly perish while mating.

Facts About Turtles

Turtles have protective shells. They developed millions of years ago, making them one of the earliest reptile lineages. Turtles survive in practically every climate. Turtles live in water.

Webbed feet or flippers and a streamlined body are aquatic adaptations. Sea turtles only exit the water to lay eggs. Freshwater turtles bask on logs or rocks in ponds and lakes.

Facts Details
Animal Types Tortoises are a kind of terrestrial animal. They have stumpy, spherical feet that are well-suited to walking on the ground. When the sun gets too hot, they go below into their burrows, which they dig with their powerful forelimbs.
Survive Terrapins can survive on land as well as in water and may be found in places like swamps, ponds, lakes, and rivers.
Size There is no typical turtle size because of the variety. Leatherback turtles are the biggest. The World Wildlife Federation says it weighs 600 to 1,500 lbs. and is 4.5 to 5.25 feet long.
Shell The University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web says a turtle’s shell is a modified rib cage and spinal column. About 60 bones cover the shell’s scutes. Scutes are formed of keratin, like fingernails.
Habitat Turtles may be found on every continent except Antarctica, making them extremely adaptable. There are a large number of turtle species in the southeastern United States and South Asia.
Habits Turtles are lonely and don’t socialize. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, they don’t mind other turtles around, but they don’t socialize. Turtles look for food during the day. No turtle is silent.
Diet Depending on their species, most turtles are omnivores. Moose consume mollusks, plants, fish, and insects. The alligator snapping turtle’s worm-like tongue attracts fish.
Offspring Turtles produce eggs. They choose a site on land to lay their eggs, dig a nest, and leave. No turtle breeds young. Turtles mate at various ages. Some acquire sexual maturity at an early age, while others wait until 50.


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies a significant number of turtle species as either vulnerable, endangered, or severely endangered. For instance, it is predicted that the plowshare tortoise and the radiated tortoise would become extinct over the next 45 years.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Some related questions are given below:

1 - What is called a turtle?

Reptiles include all species of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Because they belong to the Chelonia taxonomic order, they are sometimes referred to as chelonians (from the Greek word for tortoise).

2 - What do you know about turtles?

Since reptiles have a backbone, lungs, and snouts, they can breathe air and lay eggs. In the same way that your fingernails are formed of keratin, so are these creatures. Water-dwelling creatures can grow up to 150 years old.

3 - What kind of creature is a turtle?

Turtles are a class of reptiles in the family Testudines, with bone shells protecting their soft bodies. Turtles come in almost 350 different varieties.

4 - What do turtles eat?

Fish chow, turtle pellets, and drained sardines are all examples of animal-based pet food that turtles may eat. They can also be given cooked chicken, beef, or turkey as a source of protein. Moths, insects, shrimp, krill, feeder fish, and worms are all examples of live prey that can be eaten.

5 - What are five facts about turtles that you didn’t know?

There are some fun facts about turtles.

  • Turtles live all over the world.
  • When it comes to turtles and tortoises, they’re not the same animal.
  • Turtles are some of the oldest living things on Earth.
  • The heaviest turtles may reach upwards of one metric ton.
  • Turtles don’t have exoskeletons in their shells.

6 - How do sea turtles breathe?

All turtles, whether marine or freshwater, breathe by taking in oxygen from the air and expelling carbon dioxide. The lungs of turtles are hidden behind the shell’s carapace and spinal column. The external nares, which are placed above the mouth, are where they take their breaths.

7 - Do sea turtles hold their breath while sleeping?

Depending on how active they are, sea turtles may hold their breath for several hours. They may stay underwater for several hours while sleeping. They can hold their breath for up to seven hours in frigid water during the winter when they are hibernating.

8 - Do sea turtles need to breathe air?

The majority of sea turtles’ lives are spent below, but they may sometimes spend large amounts of time above the surface of the ocean since they need oxygen to breathe.

9 - How do turtles manage to hold their breath for so long??

The cloaca of a turtle, contains a lot of blood arteries, hence the most efficient method of obtaining oxygen is through the cloaca.

10 - How do turtles breathe in the winter?

Winter survival for turtles is dependent on “cloacal breathing,” which involves absorbing oxygen from the water as it flows past blood vessels in the skin, mouth, cloaca, or the back end.

11 - Is it possible for a turtle to drown?

Even though they have lungs like other reptiles, sea turtles can drown because they have respiratory systems identical to our own. Underwater, sea turtles are unable to breathe, yet they can hold their breath for lengthy periods in the open.

12 - What’s a sea turtle’s dry time?

In a warm, dry environment, a turtle’s water needs may usually be met for up to eight hours. Learn which kind of aquatic turtles make the finest pets, why they require water, and how to keep your turtles hydrated.

13 - Do you know how long it takes a sea turtle to exhale?

Breathing is a vital necessity for sea turtles while they are active. They can lay underwater for up to two hours at a time without breathing.

14 - Do turtles go to sleep?

It is not uncommon for pet turtles to sleep for long stretches during the day, although this is not always the case. For a shorter amount of time, aquatic turtles can sleep underwater, only rising to take a breath when necessary. They can even spend hours resting on a dry dock or with their head protruding above the water.

15 - Can turtles survive in freezing water?

A turtle’s metabolism slows when its core temperature decreases in frigid water. When it comes to turtles and their ability to survive without food or oxygen, a 99 percent slowdown in metabolism is possible.


Sulcata (Testudines) Mammalian and invertebrate shells are most complex. Carapace and plastron cover each side. Since their shell is their body, turtles can’t run. Turtles can breathe for hours.

They can hold their breath in cold water for 7 hours. Turtles rest every 30 minutes, depending on activity. Sleeping sea turtles may go seven hours without breathing. Despite a 40-45-minute breathing capacity, they surface every 5-10 minutes.

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