Question: How many types of turtles are there?

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  1. Good question Owls – First, globally there are about 300 species in the world. This number is not exact because scientists cannot agree on some of the classifications and they keep changing.

    Of this ~300 there are –

    7 species of sea turtle (and some scientists argue that green turtles should actually be 2 species which would make 8).

    There are around 10-15 land tortoises. These are species that primarily live on land. They includes the 2 species of giant tortoise – the Galapagas tortoise and the Aldabra land tortoise. The Galapagas tortoises have been classified as at least 12 sub species (one of each of the islands) and one of these sub-species went extinct back in June with the death of lonesome George. However, scientists are debating whether or not these sub-species are one or more. Lots of genetic work to be done.

    The remainder are species that live in the worlds rivers. lakes and other freshwater and estuarine water bodies. There are many arguments about the exact number.

    In Australia we have 6 species of sea turtle plus around 20 species of freshwater turtles. The number of freshwater turtles is increasing, not because many new species are discovered but because the taxonomic scientist and genetic researchers are splitting up species. For example the genus Elseya has gone from 1 to 4 (& possibly 5) species in the last 10 years.