Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas. By Jennifer Bengele. Green Sea Turtle Taxonomy. Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Reptilia Order Testudines Family Cheloniidae Genus Chelonia species mydas (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/green). Physical Description.
By Jennifer Bengele
Green sea turtles have light colored skin tinted green from a diet comprised entirely of algae and sea grass. They have a shell which varies in color from black to yellow on top called a carapace which is divided into sections called scutes. The hard tissue that forms on the bottom of the shell covering their bellies is called a plastron.
Green sea turtles are sexually dimorphic since the males have longer, thicker tails than the females (www.hsus.org).
Length: 3 - 4 feet average
Weight: 300-350 pound average
Lifespan: between 40 and 100 years or even more
Reproduction age: 20-30 years
Gestation: 7-10 weeks
Number of offspring: about 100 eggs
Female green turtles travel to shore and lay their eggs in the sand on warm beaches. These nesting grounds are called rookeries. The temperature of the sand determines the gender of the hatchlings. Warm temperatures produce females and cooler temperatures result in males. Out of the 100 or so eggs laid, only 1 or 2 of the hatchlings will make it to adulthood (http://library.thinkquest.org).
Green Sea Turtles are found in the tropical and temperate regions of ocean throughout the world. Therefore, they play a role in the food web of the marine biome. Females will leave the water to lay their eggs on beaches found in tropical places such as Hawaii and Florida. Males remain in the ocean their entire lives (www.marinebio.com).
Green sea turtles, unlike their relatives, are exclusively herbivorous as adults, favoring sea grass and algae. This is very important to maintaining sea grass beds. As juveniles, green turtles also consume animal material including sponges, jellyfish, snails, worms, and mollusks. Turtle eggs are often preyed upon by raccoons, ants, & crabs. Hatchlings are eaten by sea birds and crabs, and occasionally, an adult turtle will be consumed by a shark. (www.earlham.edu)
The debris from hatched eggs enriches the sand with much needed nutrients for dune plants which strengthens the beach ecosystem (www.adoptaseaturtle.org).
Green sea turtles are migratory animals, and, as the fastest of the sea turtles, may travel up to 300 miles in just 10 days (http://www.hsus.org). Scientists believe that females use light to find their way to beaches for nesting. In addition, the earth’s magnetic field has been shown to play a role in aiding the turtles in their migration routes to and from their feeding and breeding grounds.