A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Do female turtles shed one tear for each egg they lay?

August 23, 1999

Dear Straight Dope:

I recently heard a myth that a female turtle will shed one tear for every egg that she lays. Is this true? If so, what is she crying about?

If you're talking about a sea turtle, then she does cry, but not "a single tear for every egg."  It's more like a slow and continual leakage the entire time she's out of the water, though if she blinks, it might produce a well-defined "tear" each time. Like many marine vertebrates, sea turtles have problems with salt balance, and they "cry" constantly to help excrete excess salt. Not very poetic, after all, I guess.

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