Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) undertake lengthy migrations from feeding sites to nesting grounds. Mating occurs every two to four years and normally takes place in shallow waters close to shore. To nest, females leave the sea and choose an area, often on the same beach used by their mothers, to lay their eggs. They dig a pit in the sand with their flippers, fill it with a clutch of 100 to 200 eggs, cover the pit, and return to the sea, leaving the eggs to hatch after about two months. The most dangerous time of a green sea turtle’s life is when it makes the journey from nest to sea. Multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls, prey on hatchlings during this short scamper.
Unlike most sea turtles, adult green sea turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green turtles, however, will also eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges.
Green Sea Turtles are found throughout the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Canada in the Western Atlantic and the British Isles in the east. Their southern range extends past the southern tip of Africa in the east and Argentina in the Western Atlantic. The major nesting sites can be found on various islands in the Caribbean, along the eastern shores of the continental United States, the eastern coast of the South American continent, and, most notably, on isolated North Atlantic islands.
Many organizations throughout the world have undertaken conservation efforts for the Green Sea Turtle. In the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, conservation initiatives have centered around important nesting beaches and developmental areas of juvenile green turtles. In the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have rendered the capture or killing of a Green sea turtle a federal offense.
It is named not for the color of its shell, but for the greenish color of its skin.