The Green Sea turtle is one of the largest marine turtles swimming in our oceans. They usually inhabit the subtropical and tropical waters. There are two important populations of Green Sea turtles. One is located in the Pacific Ocean, ranging from Alaska to Chile and the other one is ranging from Canada to the southern pit of Africa and Argentina.
This reptile's scientific name is Chelonia Mydas and it belongs to the Testunides order. The Green Sea turtle earned its name from the color of the fat located in between the upper and lower shell. Contrary to the other marine turtles, the Green Sea turtle doesn't have a retractable neck and a hooked beak. This turtle species has a tear shaped dorsal shell with a smooth surface. Its legs are called flippers. The front flippers are shaped like paddles, making them fast swimmers.
The adult Green Sea turtle is a herbivore, contrary to most sea turtles. It feeds on sea grass and algae. Hatchlings and juvenile Green Sea turtles feed mainly on invertebrates such as crabs, jellyfish and sponges. The color of the shell is getting lighter as they grow. It can also differ depending on their habitat. Some species will have a brown color while others will display an olive green color.
This reptile reaches maturity at the age of 50 years old, which also means they are ready for reproduction. Female turtles mate every 2 to 4 years while males repeat this ritual on an annual basis. Females can mate with more than one male but the hatchlings do not benefit from that, as far as they are concerned. Females will migrate great distances between the feeding site and the nesting site, which is usually the same beach where they hatched themselves.
Depending on the age, the size of the clutch of eggs deposited into the nest varies between 100 and 200 eggs. The female digs a nest with her hind legs, lays her clutch of eggs and covers them up with sand before returning to the water. This process is done during the night. The eggs will hatch in approximately two months. Then, hatchlings will face the most dangerous time of their lives as they will escape the nest to walk towards the water while facing hungry predators such as crabs and sea gulls. If they reach the water, they will most likely reach maturity.
The Green Sea turtle is the largest and oldest marine turtle. Its first appearance was documented to be 150 millions years ago. While dinosaurs lived and faced extinction, the Green Sea turtle is the ultimate survivor. It can reach a length of 1.5 m (5 ft) and can weight up to 317.5 kg (700 lb).
An odd fact about the Green Sea turtle is that contrary to other sea turtles, you can observe them on the beach at other times than when nesting. You can see them sunbathe on the beach. This turtle species has a respiratory system that includes lungs. Given that fact, it needs to go to the surface to take a breath. This process lasts 1 to 3 seconds. It can then return underwater. The next time they will return to the surface to breathe depends on the amount of stress or activity they go through that time. A turtle stressed by trying to escape predators will shorten this time to 4 or 5 minutes while sleeping can make it much longer.
Juveniles Green Sea turtles will mostly live in open ocean at a depth called "Pelagic waters" as this zone is located in about the mid way between the surface and the bottom of the ocean. Adults prefer to swim in shallow waters, closer to the shore. It allows them to warmth of the sun.
The predators of the Green Sea turtle depend on its size. Large sea turtles must face the following predators: Tiger sharks and humans. Humans are a factor as some are hunting the Green Sea turtle for its meat as it is used in rituals and turtle soup. They also harvest their eggs. Other factors are: accidents caused by boat propellers, pollution, drowning in fishing nets not equipped with turtle excluder devices and loss of habitat due to human encroachment. Juvenile turtles, hatchlings and eggs also face the following predators: crabs, marine mammals, birds living on the shore, red foxes and golden jackals. The life expectancy of the Green Sea turtle in the wilderness is 80 years old.
Several countries have outlawed the hunting of the Green Sea turtle due to their endangered status, which was caused by excessive hunting. In Indonesia, a quota has been determined to be 1,000 turtles for each year. This measure was caused by the sudden depletion of that species and the threat of losing most of its tourism.
The Green Sea turtle is an amazing creature. Let's respect this species and their natural habitat by adopting environmental measures that will increase their population rather than cause their eventual extinction!
Here are some resources linked to the Green Sea turtle!