Inside A Surprisingly Terrifying Sea Turtle Mouth

Published March 15, 2016
Updated September 28, 2018
Published March 15, 2016
Updated September 28, 2018

This disturbing sea turtle mouth video will take you inside the surprisingly scary mouth of one of the ocean's most beloved creatures.

This surely can’t be from the same kind of turtle that the world fell in love with after watching Crush in Finding Nemo? Or the same heartwarming endangered species to which governments around the world have pledged millions in order to save them from poachers and predators, right?


The above video shows the hellish reality inside of a loggerhead sea turtle’s throat. The video was uploaded to Instagram by Laura Castanon, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), who is studying how low temperatures effect loggerhead’s internal organs. Educating the public about how a sea turtle’s throat looks like the mouth of a monster from Dune is just an unintended consequence.

The explanation behind this terrifying throat is simple: Loggerheads, like all turtles, don’t have teeth. They have a stiff upper lip called a cusp and a powerful bottom jaw. But instead of a mouth full of chompers, they have an esophagus lined with papillae to break down food (usually sea snails) on the way to the stomach. The papillae also keep swallowed food from being regurgitated when the turtle spits up all the sea water in its stomach.

The species is named for its exceptionally large head (“Noggin, duuuuuude“). They are also the largest hard-shelled turtles in the world, at about three feet long and 250 pounds (but can weigh more than 1,000 pounds). Furthermore, Loggerheads are the most ubiquitous sea turtle species, and can be found around the globe between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. However, they have been on the threatened species list since 1978.

For more interesting turtles, check out the rare albino sea turtle recently found on a beach in Australia.

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