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 …
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!!
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. We like to live in water that is 13.3-28.0°C (56-82°F), not as warm as your swimming pool.
Us 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 !!
My Loggerhead turtle family have a special name called caretta caretta, I think this sounds really cool.
We can grow very big, up to 90 cm long. We weigh around 135kg (298 lbs).They once found some big loggerhead turtles that grew up to 280cm long and weighed 450 kg (1000lbs). That’s taller than your daddy !! We are the 2nd biggest turtle in the 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. Paddle, paddle paddle, its so much fun ! We turtles are very good swimmers. 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 land based cousin the tortoise. The tortoise doesn’t like living in the water like we do. Because we live in water our shell is different to our tortoise cousins, a turtle's shell is more shallow to allow us to swim through the water more easily. The tortoise shell is much higher and much more round. 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.
We can live up to 50 years of age and our Mums swim thousands of miles when they head off to lay their eggs to hatch under the sand. The longest recorded swim of a Loggerhead turtle returning back to their nesting site to lay their eggs, was by a mummy turtle named Adelita, she swum a total of 14,500km (9000 miles) across the pacific ocean from America to her nesting site in Japan. That is a very very long way, I bet she was tired when she got there. Well done Adelita, she is the best turtle swimmer !!
My mummy swum a long way to the warmer water 27 – 28 degrees Celsius, 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, it's hot work so it's nice to do this when it's cool at night. We use the moon and the starlight to see the water so we can see where we have to run over the sand to the sea. We have to run very quickly, as quick as we can 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 are in the sea, the waves and undertow give us a surf ride out into the sea. Its fun, into the sea and woosh, it's like when your mummy or daddy swish you around in the water, woosh !! We are all excited because we have made it into the sea. After that, we have a long swim for about 20 hours to much deeper water. We are much safer out here from the birds and other animals that think we are a juicy dinner.
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 us turtles to find our way to navigate for long distances. We don’t get lost !! We can only swim very slowly about 1.6 kmh (1 mph), 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.
I hope you really enjoy your swimming term with me and the turtles. Next term, you will be moving up to the big boys and girls toddler swim levels. You will be meeting my friend, Cracker the crocodile. He has a lot of interesting stories to tell you and fun things for you to learn.
Have lots of fun and good luck, it's been fun, oh and a big congratulations for completing your Baby Swimming Levels. Well Done everyone !!!