Type: Sea Turtle
Location: Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Green sea turtles play a vital role within their ecosystem. They feed on seagrass and trim the top, leaving the roots behind. This technique improves the health and growth of seagrass.
Green sea turtles are well-adapted to their environment, having paddle-like arms that enable them to swim smoothly through water. Adults grow up to 1.5m and the average weight is 68-190kgs. They are distinguished from other sea turtle species by their short snout and unhooked beak. Their carapaces vary in colour, ranging from black to olive. Mature adults are usually completely brown or marbled. The turtle’s green name sake comes from the algae that bonds to their shells and gives them a greenish tinge.
The species is at risk from seabirds, crabs and raccoons when they first hatch. Adults are safer in the water and only sharks are big enough to threaten them when they reach maturity. Green sea turtles are under threat from people as well because of their shell. Traditionally, the turtle’s skin was tanned for making handbags, especially in Hawaii. Humans also poach turtle eggs and pollute the ocean, damaging nesting sites.
The turtle’s habitat changes depending on their life stage. They lay eggs on the beach and mature turtles spend their time in shallow, coastal waters. They roam the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, looking for tropical to sub-tropical waters.
There’s also a population in Hawaii that’s thought to be isolated. This means they don’t breed with other populations and remain near Hawaii for their entire lives.
The IUCN has listed green sea turtles in the Red List and the species was declared endangered in 1982. The turtle faces a number of threats, including the poaching of eggs and pollution of their environment. Pacific green sea turtles are at risk from being captured by fishermen as their foraging grounds are along the coast of Mexico and South California.
In the UK the species is protected by the Biodiversity Action Plan because of repeated hunting and marine pollution.
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