Sea Life

Green Sea Turtle Facts: Habitat, Diet, Conservation, & More

One of the largest specie of sea turtles, the green sea turtles are the reptiles found floating in the sea. They are known as green sea turtles because of the green fat layer present under their shells. Want to know more about this amazing specie? Come, let’s take a dive.

Green Sea Turtle Characteristics

Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas

1: Physical Appearance

The most distinctive feature of green sea turtles is their top shell which covers almost their whole body except the head and flippers. Shell on their body is usually of olive or dark brown color, while the underside of the body has whitish yellowish coloration.

Their body is flattened and oval-shaped with flippers having one claw that helps in swimming. A single pair of prefrontal scales are present on their bodies while the shell is covered with lateral scutes. Their beaks are sawlike (serrated) and are attached to lower jaws.

2: Size And Weight

Being one of the largest turtles, the size of green sea turtles ranges from 3-5 feet and they weigh around 300-350 lbs. Their newborn is only 8 inches long which gradually grows into an adult and reaches an average length.

The largest specimen of green sea turtle ever measured was almost 5 ft in length and 871 lbs in weight.

3: Habitat

They are mainly found living around the shores and bays filled with seagrass beds so they can feed easily. They prefer to live near the coastline for breeding purposes. Geographically speaking, they are present worldwide in temperate and subtropical areas of the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

4: Reproduction

The green sea turtles follow polygynandry to reproduce. Multiple females mate with multiple males to produce eggs that are hatched into newborns. The breeding sessions last between March and October. The mating occur usually after every two to four years in which males pay a visit to the breeding ground and copulate with a female.

The female then carries the eggs for 6-8 weeks until the hatching time. To lay the fertilized eggs, the female move to the shore at night to avoid predators and ship strikes. The female then lays more than 100 eggs in a pit that she digs specifically for this purpose.

Green sea turtles surely live a long life as their average lifespan is 70 years or more.

5: Diet

Their diet pattern is quite interesting to observe. At the juvenile stage, green sea turtles are carnivores that eat:

  • Crustaceans
  • Pelagic mollusks
  • Hydrozoans
  • Corals
  • Fish eggs
  • Jellies
  • Seaweeds

When they become true adults, they change their eating habits and become true herbivores. At the adult stage, the green sea turtle consumes:

  • Algae
  • Seagrasses
  • Seaweed

Hunting Strategy

Green sea turtles are equipped with saw-like beaks which help them tear seaweeds and grasses as well as allow them to scrape off algae from the rocks to fill their tummies.

Threats

A primary threat to the existence of green sea turtles is human activities. Some of the threats that these species experience are:

1: Overharvesting Of Eggs

The eggs of green sea turtles are still harvested at large to get fat and meat from the adult turtles. This practice has been playing a major role in the decline of this specie in the oceans.

2: Bycatching

Another threat humans pose to their existence is throwing fishing gear like hooks, gillnets, trawls, and traps in the sea which unintentionally hurt the turtles and those injuries sometimes lead to their death.

3: Ship Strikes

Also known as a vessel strike is another common reason for death or injuries in green sea turtles. They show highly migratory behavior and are often observed migrating toward the surface for breeding purposes. During that, most of the time, they get hit by giant boats causing life-threatening injuries to them.

4: Loss Of Habitat

Change in climatic conditions has resulted in the warming of oceans and the shores. The high temperature is known to be not good for breeding purposes, thus females avoid moving towards the sandy beach to hatch eggs. The shift in marine temperature is also resulting in less food available in certain areas of the sea, accelerating the migration of green sea turtles. Also, coastal developments are also affecting the suitable nesting location for female sea turtles.

5: Marine Pollution

Ingestion of pollutants by green sea turtles is a serious threat to their existence. Also, the oil spill in the oceans is also affecting the habitat of green sea turtles both at the juvenile and adult stages.

Natural Predators Of Green Sea Turtles

Green sea turtles are not preyed upon by any major predators but adult turtles definitely remain at risk of being consumed by any large shark or raccoon lurking near them. On the other hand, the infants of green sea turtles always remain at risk of becoming food for sea birds, crabs, and some mammals.

Do Sea Turtles Bite or Attack Humans?

No. These adorable sea creatures are of docile nature and do not pose any threat to humans unless provoked. You can swim quite comfortably around them and they won’t even bother you. But if you somehow would annoy them or tease them, they’ll feel threatened and can bite you. Though their bite is not poisonous, they have strong jaws and sharp beaks that will leave bruises on your skin or can even break your bone. So, do not disturb them.

Conservation Status

The green sea turtle population has been declining constantly, compelling IUCN to put this specie in the Endangered category. They are susceptible to population decline due to the overharvesting of eggs, loss of habitat, and increased fishing in the oceans.

The Final Word

The green sea turtle is one of the largest turtles that nest around the coastal lines of the oceans and primarily feeds on plant-based only. They got their name because of the green fat layers quite visible beneath their carapace. They are pleasant to the eyes, but human activities have been causing a serious decline in their number.

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am letting people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.