Creature Feature – Green Sea Turtle

This week is the letter ‘G’, and today’s featured creature is the Green Sea Turtle.

Named for the greenish colour of their cartilage and fat, not their shells, green sea turtles are prehistoric reptiles known for their herbivorous diet and their large lung capacity.

Green Sea Turtle Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Testudines

Family: Cheloniidae

Genus: Chelonia

Green Sea Turtle Fact File

? Size: Individuals typically reach up to 1.2 m in length and weigh up to 200kg

? Distribution: This species can be found in all temperate and tropical waters throughout the world

? Diet: Their diet changes as it ages. When juvenile it will eat worms, young crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses, and algae. Once larger, they will mostly eat only seagrass and algae – making them the only sea turtle species that is strictly herbivorous as an adult

? Behaviour: Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Green sea turtles are born with a very specific tooth known as an ‘egg tooth’ (or caruncle). When they hatch, they use this tooth to break their shells

? IUCN Status: Endangered. Top threats include being caught accidentally (fisheries bycatch), habitat loss, and climate change. Green sea turtles are a ‘keystone species’ – meaning that they play an important part of their environment and influence other species around them. By maintaining the seagrass beds, they make them more productive (key for those species relying) and once the seagrass is digested by a green sea turtle it becomes available as recycled nutrients