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TOBY THE TURTLE Meet The Aquatots Characters

Hi there, my name is Toby and I am a Turtle. Can you believe this is going to be your very last Baby Level and next term you shall join the Toddler Levels??

You have learnt so much already and are so very nearly ready for Toddlers but there are a few bits I need to teach you before you meet my friend Cracker and join the big kids where you can start working towards that first exciting 5 metre independent swim!! And if you behave yourself I may even let you have a go at one of my most favourite playtime activities too!!

Let me tell you a little bit more …

What we shall learn with Toby in Level 7 of the Aquatots Programme The serious bits for Mums & Dads

Congratulations ! Your child is now growing and becoming more physically able to achieve the more complicated baby level swims and master water safety skills that require more co-ordination. It's a wonderful time for parents to appreciate exactly what your child has achieved so far and just how independent they can be in the water now. This term we shall bring some of our early baby skills to their final and most exciting stages such as our Volunteer swims (from standing now!!) , underwater Piggybacks and to probably the very most exciting playtime activity, Running on the raft!! Your only struggle will be convincing your children to leave the pool after they have had a go at that!!

Please note: we prefer your baby to be nearly 2 years old to enter Level 8, as they need a certain degree of natural co-ordination, muscle strength and discipline to learn the new and more demanding skills introduced in the toddler levels. Your class teacher will guide you and provide feedback regarding preparation and readiness for your next step.

Now a little bit more about me and my family More about Toby & the Turtle Family

There are many types of Turtle but I am actually a loggerhead turtle. We live in Oceans all over the world except the very cold ones in the northern Arctic or the southern Antarctic oceans, as we don't swim that well in very cold water.

Turtles have been on the earth for a very long time. Our early ancestors go back 220 million years! Can you believe that !! We are older than the reptile family of snakes, lizards and crocodiles !!

We can grow very big, up to 90 cm long. We weigh around 135kg (298 lbs).

The loggerhead sea turtle is found all around the world in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the in the Mediterranean Sea.

We like to eat seaweed, jellyfish & crabs and have very strong jaws to crunch through the shell to get to the yummy juicy bit inside. We can dive under the water and can hold our breath for a very long time. We generally dive for 15 to 30 minutes, but we can hold our breath for hours.

I have four legs, and we use our legs to paddle through the water just like you do. In the beginning, when we are learning to swim, we use our two back legs first to push us through the water. When we are about one year old, we learn to use our front legs too. Once we can use our front and back legs, we copy the special swimming pattern of our Mummy and Daddy, then we can swim really well.

We have a hard shell on our back to protect us, just like our cousin the tortoise. The tortoise doesn’t like living in the water like we do. We turtles spend all of our life living in open ocean or near the shore. Our Mummies go on shore only to build nests and lay their eggs. We can even sleep under the sea. We can float in our shells too. I love being a turtle.

our Mums swim thousands of miles when they head off to lay their eggs to hatch under the sand. My mummy swum a long way to the warmer water of her nesting site, to lay my egg under sand on a beautiful warm beach. We stay under the sand inside our nice warm eggs for around 80 days. Did you know that warmer eggs (32 degrees) become girl turtles and cooler eggs (28 degrees) become boy turtles.

When the time is right and the moon high in the sky to help light up the beach, we hatch from our eggs and dig our way up from down in the sand. We have to run very fast and get to the water quickly, before a hungry bird sees us and scoops us up for dinner!! We are only 4.6cm long and weigh just 20 grams, so many sea birds think we are a lovely meal. I ran very, very fast I can tell you.

Once we have grown up to about 45cm, we are big enough to swim back to the coastal waters near the beach, where we grow up. We make lots of friends here inshore and love the delicious food that is all around the shore. When I grow up in a few years' time, I too will swim long distances to meet other turtles. We turtles are very lucky, we have a special chemical in our brain called magnetite, that reacts with the earth's magnetic field. This allows turtles to find our way over long distances. We don’t get lost!! We do swim quite slowly so we can't swim as fast as the other animals you have met, but we can swim for a lot further. You might remember that when you start to swim long distances too, swim slowly and you won't tire yourself out and you can swim for much longer.