Five species of marine turtles are reported to nest on African beaches - the green (Chelonia mydas), the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea).
Marine turtles are long-lived and highly migratory species, which spend their lifecycles in a variety of habitats. Only the adult females come to shore, where they excavate nests to lay eggs on sandy beaches, often the same beaches where they
hatched many years, if not decades previously.
After hatching, the juveniles of all species are pelagic and spend many years drifting in open water. As young adults, all but the leatherbacks move into coastal waters and inshore habitats to breed and forage, but continue to migrate between different foraging and nesting grounds.
Females typically lay 2-3 batches of eggs in a nesting season, and pass several weeks in shallow inter-nesting areas. Few of the thousands of eggs laid by a female during their lifetime will survive to adulthood as the majority of eggs and hatchlings fall victim to predators.