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Chelonia mydas Species ID:
A hard-shelled sea turtle with a brown, green, or black oval shell (1) possessing two large curved flippers at the front of the body and two short rounded flippers at the rear (2). The head is small with a blunt snout (3) and two elongated rectangular scales (4) just above each eye distinguish this from other sea turtles. Males have a tail that extends past the two rear flippers, while females have a shorter tail (5) Maximum size:
1.4m (the largest hard-shelled marine turtle) Longevity:
Up to 75 years Status:
Endangered according to the IUCN endangered species list Green Turtles & People:
Green turtles have long been sought after by fishermen for their eggs, meat, and shell, while coastal development has disrupted nesting activity. These and other human activities have caused a population decline of roughly 50% in the green sea turtle in the last decade, a trend that will be difficult to reverse in this slow-growing species.
This turtle is found throughout the world’s tropical seas, and is widespread throughout the Caribbean Coral Reef Zone:
Shore zone, back reef, fore reef and drop-off zones Favourite Habitats:
These large vegetarians frequent seagrass beds but can also be found in algae-covered reef areas where they tend to sleep at night Depth Range:
0–35 m (0–115 ft)
A Day in The Life:
Dawn: Turtles begin roaming the reef looking for food
Day: Turtles usually feed and in season may also migrate or mate
Dusk: Feeding declines and turtles seek shelter for the night
Night: Turtles settle under reef ledges to sleep. In season, nesting occurs on beaches
Who Eats Who
The adult green turtle is herbivorous, feeding on seagrass and algae. Young green turtles are omnivorous, and become strictly herbivorous when they reach adulthood. The large size and hard shell of adult green turtles make them vulnerable to only the largest predators, such as the tiger shark, while virtually all reef predators can eat the small juveniles.
Scuba Diver & Snorkeler Best Practices
Carefully select entry and exit points. Carefully select points of entry and exit from the water to avoid damaging the coral reef.