Source: Photo by Leslie Hickerson
This large sea turtle is named after the green color of its body fat, a coloring that results from the green sea turtle’s unique herbivorous diet. Green sea turtles are one of the most commonly seen sea turtles on St. Maarten. Found on dive sites or in shallow bay areas, they tend to pick an area to live in for extended periods and stay close by, with the exception of nesting females that typically return to the beach where they were born.
Green turtles grow to be very large, with an average adult ranging between 3-4 feet, or just over one meter long. The largest recorded was 5 feet in length and weighed 871lbs/395kg. They are the second largest sea turtle behind the leatherback.
Green sea turtles are the only herbivores among all the sea turtles species, as eat primarily sea grass and have also been known to eat sponge on the sea floor. These turtles spend their days eating beneath the ocean, surfacing to breath, and diving back down.
Green turtles do not nest as often as many other species. Females only nest every 2 to 3 years. They return to the beach they hatched on and nest three to five times in one season. In each nest, a female can lay up to 200 eggs. However, on average, only two of these eggs will survive to adulthood due to environmental threats and human impact.
- While all turtles sometimes get itchy and scratch their bodies or shells on hard corals or pieces of wrecks, the green turtles of St. Maarten tend to do this a lot! Divers often find the green turtles here have less barnacle growth and cleaner shells from scratching such parasites off. Some have even developed a fondness for feeling diver’s bubbles on their underparts!
- When resting, they can stay underwater for 2 to 3 hours! They don’t need to come up for air during that time because their muscles and blood store large quantities of oxygen. Their heart rate also drastically slows down to conserve as much oxygen as possible
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