Green Sea Turtle

Chelonia mydas
Image by Brocken Inaglory.

The green sea turtle gets its name not for the color of its shell – which is normally brown or olive depending on its habitat – but for the greenish color of its skin.

It inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world. They are mostly herbivores, feeding on sea grass in shallow lagoons. Juvenile green turtles will also eat invertebrates, like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges. They migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches.

Some turtles will travel 2600km to get to their spawning ground. Females haul out onto beaches at night time, dig nests before laying between one-hundred and two-hundred eggs. When the hatchlings emerge, after about two months, they scuttle back into the water where they can live to 80 years of age. Although a significant percentage never make it to the ocean. The most dangerous time of a green turtle’s life is when it makes the journey from nest to sea.

While most sea turtles warm themselves by swimming close to the surface of shallow waters, the eastern pacific green turtle will take to land to bask in the sun. Occasionally seen sunbathing alongside seals and albatrosses, it is one of the few marine turtles known to leave the water other than at nesting times.

An adult green turtle can grow to 1.5m in length and reach a weight of 315kg! Green turtles are among the largest sea turtles in the world. Green sea turtles are reptiles whose ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea to live about 150 million years ago. They are one of the few species so ancient that they watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct. They are a protected species.