Turtle Facts!

Top reasons why Green Sea Turtles are the most amazing animals:

  • They are part of the reptile family. Their ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea to live about 150 million years ago. (Modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago)
  • They can excrete salt water from their bodies through their eyes.
  • One method that males use to see who should get to mate with the female is who can raise their neck the highest. The female will choose who she mates with.
  • They can swim for hours and hours without becoming tired. Some of them travel hundreds or more than 1,000 miles to reach the breeding grounds. This can take them a very long time to reach due to their slow but steady pace.
  • They can dive more than 1,000 feet into the water in order to reach food.
  • They are cold blooded so they have the ability to slow down their metabolism. As a result they can go several months without food if necessary.
  • It is believed that many of the species can live from 50-80 years in the wild with the right conditions.
  • In order to navigate, it is believed that they are born with a map and have a magnetic preference in their bodies.
  • They have strong horny mouths with no teeth.

Green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, are called green because of the color of their subdermal fat which is green from the algae they eat. They are protected by a tough shell that protects their entire body. The shell covering the back is called carapace and the shell on the underside is called plastron. The adult size ranges from 27 to 60 inches. They can weigh up to 400 pounds. They have flippers that are paddle-like and they use the front pair to pull themselves through the water breaststroke fashion. Their heads seem small compared to their body size. Males are larger than females and the tail is longer, extending well beyond the shell. The carapace can be olive to brown, or sometimes black. Green turtles cannot pull their heads inside of their shells like fresh water turtles.

They spend almost their entire lives at sea and undertake migrations of 1000 miles or more. Sea turtles breathe air and must surface every few minutes. When resting, they can remain under water for approx. 2 hours.


In the USA Pacific, over 90 percent of nesting throughout the Hawaiian archipelago occurs at the French Frigate Shoals, where about 200 to 700 females nest each year.

Males and females mature between 10 and 24 years. During the breeding season mating occurs underwater or on the surface about one kilometer from the shore. Sometimes the female will retain enough sperm to nest several times that year. Nesting occurs every three to six years. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the water, crawls onto the sand and starts digging for hour and hours until her flippers will not allow her to dig deeper. She then lays 100 to 200 eggs. This group of eggs is called a clutch. She covers them with sand to protect them from the sun, heat, and predators. Pacific green turtles lay fewer eggs than Atlantic green turtles. The gestation period is 40 to 72 days.


Baby turtles use their egg tooth to break the shell of their egg. Females lay many eggs because the chance for their survival is very low. If the eggs are successful and they hatch, they start moving their flippers. so the sand starts to fall below them, pushing them up out of the hole so they can start making their way to the sea. As soon as they get to the sea, they start to drift off. They spend a few years floating at sea eating plankton at the surface. During this time, their shell is soft and they are subject to predation by fish. After a few years of eating plankton, they move to shallow waters to feed on sea grasses.

To avoid predation, turtles hide, dive, and swim away. Young green turtles that have just hatched are the most vulnerable. They may get eaten from the time they hatch, crossing the sand on their way to the ocean, and during the first couple of years at sea.


Green Sea Turtles spend most of their time feeding on algae in the sea and the grass that grows in shallow waters. As juveniles, they eat plants and other organisms such as jellyfish, crabs, sponges, snails, and worms. As adults, they are strictly herbivorous.


The Green Sea Turtle is a threatened and protected species. All seven of the world’s sea turtles species are in peril and the loss of nesting habitat is the primary cause. In addition, adult sea turtles entangle themselves in fishing nets and drown, or die after eating plastic bags and other floating debris, which they likely mistake for jellyfish.