Green Sea Turtle
Chelonia mydas

Physical Description

  • Large, heavy sea turtle 
  • Can weigh up to 700 pounds
  • Wide, smooth carapace (shell) that is olive or brown in color
  • Named for green skin
  • Small head is non-retractable

Range

  • Coastal waters from Alaska to Chile
  • There is also an Atlantic green turtle on the east coast of North America and off the coast of Europe

Habitat

  • Lives in tropical and subtropical waters

Diet

  • Herbivores, they eat algae and sea grasses 
  • Juvenile green sea turtles will also eat crabs, jellies, and sponges

Predators

  • Baby green sea turtles have many predators. In the short scamper from nest to sea, they can be eaten by gulls, crabs, fishes, dogs, raccoons, and other seabirds. Over 90% of baby sea turtles are eaten by predators. 
  • Adults’ main predator is large sharks, especially tiger sharks.

Interesting Facts

  • Green sea turtles can live to be up to 80 years old!
  • They are one of the only marine turtles that leave the water more than just to lay their eggs – they can often be seen climbing onto the sand to sunbathe.
  • Female green sea turtles often lay eggs on the same beach that their mother used and they were born on. They often lay a clutch of 100-200 eggs at a time. 
  • Green sea turtles are endangered, and they need our help to protect them. You can help them by making sure you clean up your trash and fishing gear at the beach, so they do not eat it or get entangled in it! 

Sources: National Geographic; Sea World

Photo: Michael T. Samale

See endangered green sea turtles in person at Living Coast Discovery Center

Learn about sea turtle biology and conservation at Sea Camp (8th grade and older)!

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