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Green Sea Turtle

By

Green Turtle / Andy Bruckner, NOAA

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Andy Bruckner, NOAA
Do you know how green turtles got their name? It's not for the color of their shell, or skin. Read on to find out!

Description:

The green turtle weighs up to 350 pounds. The green turtle's carapace can be many colors, including shades of black, gray, green, brown or yellow.

Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Testudines
  • Family: Cheloniidae
  • Genus: Chelonia
  • Species: mydas

The green turtle is divided into two subspecies, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas mydas) and the black or Eastern Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii).

Habitat and Distribution:

Green sea turtles are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters around the world.

Feeding:

How did green turtles get their name? It is from the color of their fat, which is thought to be related to their diet. Adult green turtles are the only herbivorous sea turtles. When young, green turtles are carnivorous, feeding on snails and ctenophores (comb jellies), but as adults they eat seaweeds and seagrass.

Reproduction:

Female green turtles nest in tropical and subtropical regions - some of the biggest nesting areas are in Costa Rica and Australia. Females lay about 100 eggs at a time, and will lay 1-7 clutches of eggs during the nesting season, spending about 2 weeks in the ocean in between. After the nesting season, females wait between 2-6 years before coming ashore to nest again.

The eggs hatch after about 2 months, and the hatchlings weigh only about 1 ounce and are 1.5-2 inches long. They head to the sea, where they spend time offshore until they reach a length of 8-10 inches, and move toward the coast, living eventually in shallow areas with seagrass beds. Green turtles may live over 60 years.

Conservation:

Green turtles are endangered. They are threatened by harvesting (for turtle meat and eggs), bycatch in fishing gear, habitat destruction and pollution.

Sources:

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Marine Life
  4. Cetaceans
  5. Green Sea Turtle Profile and Facts

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