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Green sea turtle


Photograph of "Aikane".
By kind permission of Ursula Keuper-Bennett, Turtle Trax

Species: Chelonia mydas

Green sea turtles are named after the green colour of the fat under their shell.

Description

The green sea turtle grows to more than 1 metre in carapace length (the length of their shell) and weigh on average about 150 kg. Most turtles have two pairs of scales in front of their eyes whereas the Green sea turtle have a single pair of scales. They're found in all temperate and tropical waters throughout the world.

Sea turtles have distinctive face markings that are unique to each turtle. These markings are used by researchers for identification.

Habitat

Green sea turtles are rarely observed in the open oceans and appear to frequent coastlines and islands.

Tracks left by a newly hatched sea turtle making its way down the beach towards the open ocean.

Diet

As they age their diet significantly changes. When less than 200 mm in length they mainly eat worms, small crustaceans, aquatic insects, sea grass and algae. When green sea turtles grow larger than 200 mm in length, they generally eat only sea grass and algae. When adult, green sea turtles become strictly herbivores. Their jaws have fine serrated edges that help in eating vegetation.

Nesting

Green sea turtles nest at intervals of 2 or more years. They're known to nest between 2 to 5 times per season and lay an average of 115 eggs in each nest. Their eggs incubate for about 60 days.

When they hatch an enduring struggle starts. The young hatchlings make for the open water, running the gauntlet of predators waiting on the beach, in the air and in the water. Many will die before they even reach the ocean.

Of those that make it this far, possibly only about 1 in 10,000 will grow to be adults, the surviving females eventually returning in several years to lay their own eggs.