Green Sea Turtle
The green sea turtle (Chelonia Mydas), also known as the green turtle, black (sea) turtle or Pacific green turtle, is a species of large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae. Its range extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but it is also found in the Indian Ocean. The common name refers to the usually green fat found beneath its carapace, not to the color of its carapace, which is olive to black.
Unlike other members of its family, such as the hawksbill sea turtle, the green sea turtle is mostly herbivorous. The adults usually inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrasses. The turtles bite off the tips of the blades of seagrass, which keeps the grass healthy.
Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as Turtle Island due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests, and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge, and scramble into the water. Those that reach maturity may live to 90 years in the wild.
Why They Matter
Throughout their life-cycle, sea turtles play an important role in the ecology and well-being of coastal and open ocean environments. Sea turtles maintain the health of coral reef systems by grazing on sponges, which if left to grow unchecked, outgrow the corals, cover them up and kill the reef. Because of this, researchers believe that declining numbers of sea turtles may be a factor in the inability of reefs to resist increasing pressures from pollution, algal overgrowth, overfishing and climate change.
Green sea turtle is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries. It is illegal to collect, harm, or kill them. In addition, many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger due to human activity. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are still hunted for food. Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die after being caught in fishing nets. In addition, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches.