Green Sea Turtle

Scientific Name Chelonia mydas

Native To Tropical and subtropical oceans around the world

Habitat Open ocean and coastal waters

Diet Sea weed, jelly fish, invertebrates, algae

Size and Age Up to 1.22 meters (4ft) long and 150 kg (330lbs)

Natural History

  • Green sea turtles are solitary for most of their lives, but congregate during mating season. Males and females look identical until they reach sexual maturity (around 25-50yrs old). Once mature, males have a longer tail, a longer carapace, and mating claws that develop on the edge of their front flippers. Females will return to the same beach each year to lay their eggs, sometimes travelling up to 1000km to reach their goal. Because of the physical demand of travelling to the distant beaches, female sea turtles will not reproduce every year. Instead they will breed only when their fat reserves are large enough to accommodate travel, sometimes between 2-4yrs apart. They will lay around 100 eggs.
  • When the young hatch, they must fight their way from the nest to the ocean while facing predators from both the land and the sea. Out of the approximately 1,000 eggs laid in a nest, only 1 hatchling will make it to adulthood. Young sea turtles start on a diet consisting of mainly jellyfish and invertebrates. As they grow older and larger, they switch their diet to seaweed and algae. Green sea turtles grow very slowly, taking over 20yrs to reach their full size.
  • There are 7 different types of sea turtles: Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Kemps Ridley, Olive Ridley, Australian Flatback, Leatherback


Conservation Status

Green sea turtles are listed as endangered by the IUCN. They are facing a number of threats:

  • Marine debris can get tangled around sea turtles, or it can be ingested and cause an impaction. Plastic bags and bottles are the most commonly found pollution items. Entanglement in fishing gear is also an issue.       
  • We can help by reducing our plastic use by avoiding plastic cups and straws, using reusable shopping bags, and recycling at home! 
  • Habitat encroachment from building homes/beaches/resorts/noise/lights on the nest beaches.
  • We can help by supporting organizations that construct/assist with sea turtle friendly development!
  • Hunting by humans for their meat, eggs, and shells.
  • We can help by avoiding products that are made from sea turtles!

Interesting Facts

  • Green sea turtles are the largest hard shell turtle species (although the leatherback sea turtle is larger it has a soft shell).
  • They get their name from the color of their fat, which turns green from the sea weed and algae that they eat
  • Gender of baby sea turtles is based on temperature of the nest! Lower temperatures produce males, and higher temperatures produce females.
  • Green sea turtles can live up to 80yrs.
  • They can hold their breath for up to 5hrs when resting or sleeping by slowing down their heart rate as low as 1 beat every 9 minutes to conserve oxygen.
  • Because sea turtles live in salt water, they end up ingesting salt as they eat. To remedy this, they have a special gland behind their eyes that pulls the salt out of the water, and allows them to excrete unwanted salt.