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Green Sea Turtle

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas

Green Sea Turtle Description

 You may think that all sea turtles are the same but that isn’t true. One species of them is known as the Green Sea Turtle. They are very colorful with a shell that features black or dark gray spots, and vibrant colors of red and orange. Knowing that information can help you to distinguish them from other species you may see.

A full grown Green Sea Turtle is amazing in size. They can be taller than many adults with a size of about 5 ½ feet. They can also weigh three times an average person with a total weight of up to 400 pounds. Even so, they aren’t nearly as big as some other species out there. Compared to them, they fall into the medium sized category.

Green Sea Turtle Anatomy

 In addition to offering a very colorful shell that protects them, the Green Sea Turtle also has one of the lightest shells. This allows for faster movement in the water. They do have small heads that seem out of proportion in many ways to the rest of the body when they are full grown. However, this helps to protect from predators that can’t penetrate the shell.

The body of them allows for staying under the water for an exceptionally long period of time. It can be a couple of hours before they have to come to the surface. As a result they are able to conserve energy and to focus on finding enough food for their survival. It also explains why you can watch for a very long time but only rarely see them coming up.

One of the biggest myths about the Green Sea Turtle is that it is able to produce tears. This process though is actually the result of the body needing to remove the salt water from them. They have glands behind the eyes that they use for this process. However, when you view it there is definitely the appearance that tears are running down the face.

Green Sea Turtle Evolution

 As is the case with many forms of life that live on land and in the water, it is believed that the Green Sea Turtle was once with appendages. As their need to survive more and more in the water emerged though they developed powerful flippers for getting through the water. They also developed a hard shell that allows them to have a source of protection from predators.

Green Sea Turtle Behavior

 Green Sea Turtles are non verbal but they also seem to be very intelligent. It isn’t fully understood how they communicate with each other. However, they have been observed touching and being affectionate with each other even when it isn’t mating season. They can form some very strong bonds due to the fact that they may live to be 80 or so years of age. They can spend many decades with the same small group of sea turtles. Some of them prefer to live alone though so you won’t always see them with others.

Another interesting behavior is the amount of time that they are on the beach or in the sand. They do this though so that their bodies can absorb heat from the sunlight. They use their flippers to help them move in the soft sand or the mud. If you look in a given location where they reside you will see the telling marks that those flippers leave behind.

Green Sea Turtle Habitat

 The fact that the Green Sea Turtle migrates for warmer waters and for mating is something that most people know about. However, you may not realize that this journey can end up being thousands of miles and they do it every single year. It isn’t understood how they form larger groups for migration or who is actually in charge of the movements. They are very calm during the migration process as they know they have a goal to accomplish.

Green Sea Turtle Feeding Habits

 Green Sea Turtles have very interesting eating habits as well. They have been documented by fascinated researchers. When a young one moves from the shore to the water they are meat eaters. They are going to remain close to the surface and they are going to eat small fish as well as various forms of crustaceans. This is mainly because they need to food to grow and that they can’t swim well yet.

However, as they get older, about three years of age they are able to swim much better. They will then start consuming algae and other plant life in the water. They will need to consume much more of though than they did when they were eating meat. The Green Sea Turtle eats leisurely so it can take many hours of each day to successfully eat. When they are migrating though they rarely stop to eat at all.

Green Sea Turtle Reproduction

 The process of migration for them allows the males to return to their original mating grounds. That is the only place where he will go – back to where he began life after hatching from an egg. The females can choose from several different locations though so they aren’t only limited to going back to where they started.

While they can start to mate as young as 15 years of age, they may not do so until they are close to 50 years of age. It isn’t understood what this means or why it occurs. What research does show though is that the females will decide when they get to mate and who they will mate with. They also don’t mate annually as many other animals do that lay eggs. Instead they often only do so once in a 3 or 4 year period of time.

This complicated system for reproducing though makes it very hard to bring up the numbers of them in the wild after they drop low. The females will go to the shore to deposit up to 200 eggs from her body. She will leave them there and after a couple of months those that remain will try to make it to the water in order to survive. They have to do this through instinct alone as they get no direction from their parents. Watching these young scramble to the water by the hundreds is a very amazing sight.

Green Sea Turtle Predators

 Many of the these young offspring never make it to the water though. The eggs are often taken by people to consume as their own food source. Animals including dogs, raccoons, and birds can take them as well. These same predators with the addition of crabs will also consume large numbers of them after they hatch as they scramble to reach the water.

Many older Green Sea Turtles are killed in order to offer a supply of meat to the various villages. They also use their shells and other body parts as tools. The use of fishing nets results in many of them dying or becoming severely injured as well. As a result of human choices the Green Sea Turtle can be found on the list of endangered animals. Even with recovery efforts in place it is hard to increase their numbers enough. More aggressive actions will need to be taken if they are going to have a future.


Submit a Comment

  • SammySammo profile image


    7 years ago from Boston, MA

    Thank you so much for this Hub--I love sea turtles, and it's good to see a complete Hub on them =)

  • profile image

    8 years ago

    el is the best


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