What Is the Green Sea Turtle?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards
Many green sea turtles are snatched up shortly after birth by seagulls.
Many green sea turtles are snatched up shortly after birth by seagulls.

A green sea turtle, or Chelonia mydas, is a sea turtle that can be found in the parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It looks very similar to other sea turtles, and it is named for its green fat. Although these turtles spend most of their time in the water, they will venture onto land to lay eggs and occasionally bask in the sun.

The green sea turtle is from the Cheloniidae family. In fact, it is the only species in this family. Scientists, however, disagree about whether the green sea turtles found in the Pacific are a different species than those found in the Atlantic.

These turtles are primarily found in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, as well as along the coastal tropical and subtropical coast lines. Like other sea turtles, the body of the green sea turtle is built for ocean life. A green sea turtle has a flatter, more streamlined body than land turtles, which allows them to move through the water very quickly. Its powerful front legs are actually flippers, which help the animal swim. It also has a short neck and a small head with a short beak, which is not hooked, like some other species of sea turtles.

An adult green sea turtle can grow to be 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length. They can also weigh up to 400 pounds (181 kilograms). The largest green sea turtle on record, though, weighed roughly 870 pounds (395 kilograms).

Despite its name, the shell of a green sea turtle is not always green. Some of these turtles will have brown shells, while others may have olive-colored shells. The name green sea turtle refers to the color of the animal's skin and the greenish colored fat found inside its shell. The fat becomes this color because of the algae that the turtles eat.

When it is an adult, a green sea turtle will mainly eat algae and other aquatic plant life. Juveniles, on the other hand, have a drastically different diet. These young turtles will often consume aquatic invertebrates, like jellyfish and squid.

Green sea turtles will usually spend most of their lives in water, swimming and searching for food. In the late spring, however, they will mate near land. The females will then crawl ashore and lay their eggs in hole in the sand. This hole is then filled in to protect the eggs from the sun and predators. One female can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time.

About two months later, the hatchlings will begin to emerge. A sharp beak, known as an egg tooth, is used to cut through the leathery shell. These hatchlings will then make the dangerous journey to the nearby ocean. Many of them are snatched up by predators, such as sea gulls, before they even reach the water. Even those that make it to the water are still in danger of being consumed by other predators until they get a little larger.

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    • Many green sea turtles are snatched up shortly after birth by seagulls.
      By: azazello
      Many green sea turtles are snatched up shortly after birth by seagulls.