Name: Green Sea Turtles
Average Weight: 200 - 400 pounds
Average Size: 3 - 4 feet
Lifespan in the Wild: 60 - 100 years
IUCN Status: Endangered
Population: It is estimated that there are between 85,000 and 90,000 nesting females. It is worth noting that these estimates are based on nesting beach monitoring reports and publications from 2004. IUCN has deemed that their populations are decreasing.
General Information: The Green Turtle is one of the larger species of sea turtles, they get their name, not from the color of their shell but actually the colour of their skin.
The green sea turtles diet changes as they grow up. The adult green sea turtle typically eats seagrass and algae where as a juvenile between 8 and 10 inches will feast on seagrass, algae, worms and marine insects and small crustaceans.
Nesting Behaviours & Reproduction:
It takes at least 20 to 50 years for these turtles to reach sexual maturity. Adult females will breed every 3 - 4 years, and breeding season is in late spring and early summer. They will travel long distances, like other species of sea turtles, to their nesting grounds. The males will arrive and wait offshore for the females to mate.
A few weeks after mating the female will make her way up the beach and she will dig her hole in the sand to lay her eggs. Each clutch will have between 75 to 200 eggs and she can lay several clutches of eggs before she leaves her nesting area. The eggs will incubate for 2 months and then the hatchlings will emerge to make their way to the water.
Habitat & Range:
Green sea turtles are rarely seen in the open oceans and love to remain near coastline and around islands, bays and sheltered shores. They particularly populate areas with seagrass beds.
There are actually thought to be 2 species of green sea turtles - the Atlantic green sea turtle which can be found off the coasts of Europe and North America and the Eastern Pacific green sea turtle which can be found in the coastal waters of Alaska to Chile -scientists are currently debating whether they are sub-species or separate species entirely.
These sea turtles are very different from other species who rarely leave the ocean other than to nest, as often you can observe the green sea turtle pulling themselves up onto the beaches to bask in the sunshine. They will also swim to the surface to warm themselves.
Threats To The Species:
With a declining population, green sea turtles are considered an endangered species. There are a number of reasons for their decline and a range of threats that they face both as hatchlings and fully grown adults.
Hunted for Meat & Harvesting Eggs:
The leading cause for the green sea turtle decline throughout history has been the long-term harvesting of their eggs along with the hunting of green turtles for their meat. These practices are illegal in many countries now, in an effort to protect green sea turtles. It is estimated that tens of thousands of green turtles are harvested each year, particularly in parts of Asia and the Western Pacific. They are also hunted in West Africa for use in medicine and some traditional ceremonies.
Many sea turtle species they face the risk of bycatch in fishing nets. WWF estimated that hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets annually. There are turtle excluder devices available that can be used to help prevent sea turtles, such as hawksbill, avoid being victims of bycatch. Because sea turtles need to surface to breath, getting caught and trapped in fishing gear can often result in drowning.
From their nesting beach to the seagrass beds that they feed on green sea turtles are seeing disastrous destruction of their habitat.
Coastal development sees their nesting beaches disturbed and destroyed, frequent vehicle traffic across the beach along with more and more human activities leads to the destruction of nests.
Their feeding grounds are also at risk from these coastal developments as more pollution and sediments can seep into the water nearby and affect where the green sea turtles feed.
If the above mentioned wasn't enough green sea turtles also are at risk from plastic pollution and diseases!