Green Sea Turtle Facts
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) knowledge is very limited even though they are one of the most majestic animals in the ocean. And although you may never be in a position to feed one of these sea creatures, they are still worthy of your attention.
Green sea turtles are one of the largest types of turtles in the world. They can grow to be as large as 5 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds! And like many other turtles, can live a long and healthy life ranging from 40-50 years and possibly up to 100 years.
They are well adapted to marine life with large flippers and lungs capable of holding their breath for as long as 5 hours underwater.
Unfortunately the popularity of the green sea turtle is somewhat of a problem as is the case for all endangered species.
These sea turtles are currently on the Endangered Species List because of over fishing, accidental death in fishing gear, habitat loss, water pollution, and excessive collection of their meat and eggs for human consumption.
Where Can Green Sea Turtles Be Found
The green sea turtle enjoys warm, shallow tropical water, where there is plenty of grass to eat.
They are found worldwide in oceans except close to the poles where the water is colder.
This is because they do not have as thick layer of fat and insulation like some of their cousins including the leatherback sea turtle.
What Do Green Sea Turtles Eat
A green sea turtle is easily distinguished because of it’s mouth beak with finely serrated edges, like that of a saw. This enables them to tear sea grasses easily and scrape algae off of hard surfaces and coral.
Like many other types of turtles, they change their food preferences during maturation. You’ll find that as they grow older their diet becomes more and more herbivorous.
What Do Green Sea Turtles Eat In The Wild
As babies, the green sea turtle tends to be mainly carnivorous enjoying a diet consisting of mostly animal matter with a little bit of ocean vegetation for good measure. This diet includes:
Fish, Jellyfish, Crustaceans, Shrimp, Fish Eggs, with some Algae mixed in.
As adults though, the green sea turtle is almost exclusively a herbivore feeding on:
Sea Grass, Mangrove Leaves, Seaweed, Algae
What Do Green Sea Turtles Eat In Captivity
Although you’ll probably never have the chance to have a pet marine turtle (it’s illegal), you can find them at some zoos and aquariums.
In a zoological environment most sea turtles, yes even the green sea turtle, can be maintained on a mainly carnivorous diet. For adults, this is quite different from what you would find in the wild.
Fun Fact: Marine herbivores like the green sea turtle are important for maintaining healthy coral reefs. Because algae out-competes coral, without sea turtles corals can be overgrown and die from this algae.
What Problems Face Green Sea Turtles?
Unfortunately these beautiful sea creatures are more popular than is good for them. As an endangered species there are many threats to them both on land and in the ocean.
Threats in the ocean include getting stuck in fishing gear and nets, pollution, and collision with boats.
They are also hunted for their flesh, eggs, and shells. A green sea turtle shell is a prized possession for many small villages.
On land, human development is the main threat. Coastal construction, disorientation of hatchlings by beachfront lighting, and beach cleaning pose significant threats to nesting females and their hatchlings.
In the United States, major beach habitat protection and nest-protection efforts are underway for most of the significant nesting areas.
There has also been significant progress made in reducing mortality from commercial fisheries in U.S. waters with the enforcement of turtle excluder device regulations.
We are still a long way to go to make the green sea turtle safe for generations to come but we’re on the right track.
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Video Credit: WhiteFalcon113