- Family: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Cheloniidae
- Genus: Chelonia
- Species: Chelonia mydas
- Scientific name: Chelonia mydas
- Common name: Green turtle, green sea turtle, black sea turtle.
Habitat and Distribution
- Its habitat extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas. They stay along the coast and islands between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south. They rarely adventure to the open ocean.
- The largest nesting grounds of green turtles are located in Tortuguero in Costa Rica and Raine Island in Australia.
- In the U.S. their primary nesting ground is located in the central and south coast of Florida.
- Adult green sea turtles prefer to live near sea grass beds, mangroves and coral reefs while younger ones live farther from shore.
- The green turtle gets its name from a layer of green fat under its carapace and not from the color of its shell.
- They have a smooth shell called carapace in the shape of a tear drop. They can be different shades of black, gray, brown, yellow or green. The bottom of their shell is called plastron and it is yellow.
- The carapace changes color over time. Hatchings have black carapace.
- They have the largest carapace of all turtles.
- Their limbs are dark colored and lined in yellow.
- They have paddle-like arms adapted for swimming.
- Their snout is short and its beak unhooked.
- Green turtles have small heads relative to the size of their bodies.
Size and length
- On average the green turtle measures up to 5 f or 1.5 m long.
- Their weight fluctuates from 150 lb or 68 kg to 419 lb or 190 kg.
- The length of its carapace can be from 31 in or 78 cm to 44 in or 112 cm.
- The largest known green turtle weighed 871 lb or 395 kg.
- Adult green turtles are herbivorous they feed from algae and sea grass. They are the only species of herbivorous marine turtles.
- Younger green turtles have an herbivorous and carnivorous diet.
Migration and breeding
- Green turtles migrate long distances between feeding sites and breeding and nesting grounds. They swim more than 1,600 m or 2,600 km.
- It is believed that green turtles reach sexual maturity between 20 to 50 years of age.
- Adult females return to the beach where they were hatched every 2 to 4 years, while males return every year in order to mate.
- Females dig a hole in the sandy beach where she lays her eggs. She covers them with sand and returns to the sea.
- They nest between 3 to 5 times per season laying between 70 and 100 eggs.
- Incubation lasts from 50 to 70 days.
- After hatchings are born they go to the water where they have to face their predators. Hatchings are 2 in or 50mm long and weigh about 0.05 lb or 25 gr.
- Green sea turtles can live an average of 80 years in the wild.
- Green sea turtles suffer from fibropapillomatosis which is a debilitating tumor growth.
- Degradation of nesting beaches.
- Sea pollution, plastic bags, oil, marinas and vessel traffic.
- Overharvesting of eggs and adult turtles for their meet.
- The IUCN Red List considers the population of chelonia mydas as “endangered”.
Did you know?
A group of sea turtles is called “bale”.
References and further research
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization
North Florida Ecological Service Office