Question: How long can tortoises stay in water? And how long can turtles stay on land?

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  1. Good question – tortoises and terrapins are both turtles. Its just that they live mostly on land or freshwater as opposed to the sea turtles. The true land turtles like the galapagas turtles can’t swim, at least very well, which means they would struggle if you put them in water which was over their heads. As long as they could keep their feet on the ground and still have their heads out of water they could stay in the water for hours maybe days – the actual length of time has not been tested.

    Similarly the marine and freshwater turtles that live their entire lives in the water could not live out of the water. These marine and freshwater turtles do come out of the water to bask and warm up their bodies, and they come out of the water to lay eggs. They can stay out of the water for a long time (many days) as long as they are cool – one reason they need the water is to keep the bodies from getting too hot. Some of the old sailing fleets like columbus and cook caught marine turtles and held them in their ships for months as a food source for when fish and other produce ran out.

    Then ~300 years ago the sailing fleets of the european nations caught 100s of marine turtles from the caribbean such as Bermuda and Cayman Island and then transported them live back to Europe to make turtle soup, which was seen as a delicacy.