Sea turtles can live long, a lifespan of 80 years is common. But the down side is, that it takes decades for sea turtles to reach sexual maturity. After mating at sea, adult female sea turtles return to land to nest mostly at night. females return to the very same beach where they hatched decades ago. This can take place every two to four years in maturity. The nesting female hauls herself onto the beach, some species prefer the night time other sea turtles will emerge from the ocean during day time. They search for suitable sand on which to create their nests. The sea turtle female uses her hind flippers to dig a circular hole 16 to 20 inches deep.
She then starts filling the nest with 50 to 200 soft-shelled eggs, depending on the species. Some sea turtle species like the hawksbill have been reported to lay 250 eggs. After laying her eggs, she re-fills the nest with sand, re-sculpting and smoothing the surface until it is relatively undetectable. The whole process takes thirty to sixty minutes. She then returns to the ocean, leaving the eggs untended.
Incubation takes about two months. The eggs in one nest hatch together over a very short period of time. When ready, hatchlings tear their shells apart with their snout and dig through the sand. This usually takes place at night. Once they reach the surface, they instinctively head towards the sea. If, as happens on rare occasions, hatching takes place during daylight, only a very small proportion of each hatch succeed in reaching the ocean, because local predators, such as pelicans, seagulls and other large birds, gorge on sea turtles hatchlings.