Green Turtle

green sea turtle

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 Turtle’s unique herbivorous diet. Green turtles are one of the most commonly seen sea turtles on St. Maarten. Found on dive sites or in shallow bay ares they tend to pick an area to live in for extended periods and stay close by with the exception of nesting females that return to the beach where they were born.

Size

Green Turtles grow to be very large with an average adult ranging between 3-4 feet (just over one meter long), but the largest recorded was 5 feet in length and weighed 871lbs/395kg. They are the second largest sea turtle behind the Leatherback.

diver and sea turtle
Green Turtle diving back into the sea during monitoring. Source: Ocean Explorers Diving

Feeding

The only Herbivore among all the sea turtles as adults Green Turtles eat primarily sea grass but have also been known to eat sponge on the sea floor. These turtles spend their days eating beneath the ocean and then surfacing to breath and diving back down.

Nesting

Green Turtles do not nest as often as many other species. Females only nest every 2 to 3 years. The 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, on average two of these eggs will survive to adulthood. Do to environmental threats and human impact.

Fun Facts

  • 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 stomach!
  • 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
diver and sea turtle
Photo by Demian Hartman. Turtle scratching its back on broken coral at dive site The Bridge, St. Maarten.

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