Green Sea Turtle
The shells of sea turtles are lighter and more hydrodynamic than the shells of turtles that live on land, allowing them to glide easily through water.
Because their feet have evolved into flippers, sea turtles are able to swim long distances.
Adult male sea turtles live their entire lives at sea, but females return to land—to the same beach where they were born—once every two years or so to lay their eggs.
Green sea turtles have a serrated beak for tearing vegetation. Their vegetarian diet gives their fat a greenish color, which is how the green sea turtle got its name.
Juvenile green sea turtles are carnivorous, feeding on jellies and other invertebrates. As adults, however, greens are the only herbivorous (vegetarian) species of sea turtle, feeding on sea grasses and algae.
At the Aquarium, our green sea turtle is fed romaine lettuce, gel food made from algae, and a balanced mixture of essential vitamins and minerals.
With a shell length of 3.5 feet and weighing up to nearly 400 pounds, green sea turtles are second in size only to the behemoth leatherback sea turtle.
Green sea turtles are found in all tropical and subtropical seas along the coasts of continents and islands.
Conservation alert! Worldwide, green sea turtle population declines are largely due to the harvest of both the turtles and their eggs.
In the United States, this species is listed as threatened or endangered, depending on the population.
Despite federal and state protection, large numbers are killed by fisheries targeting other species (bycatch); these turtles also die following entanglement in discarded fishing gear or ingestion of marine debris, especially plastics.
In many parts of their range, nesting is hindered or disrupted by coastal development and other human activities. After hatching at night, baby sea turtles find their way to the ocean by following the brightest horizon. Confused, many head towards the artificial lights of houses, hotels, or other structures and die before they reach the water.
In recent years, many populations, including those in Florida and Hawaii, have been seriously affected by fibropapilloma. Turtles with this disease develop fleshy tumors on the skin and internal organs that can eventually impair vision, feeding, breathing, and other vital functions.
Everyone can help with sea turtle conservation efforts. Learn How
Raccoons, foxes, dogs, seabirds, and ghost crabs prey upon turtle eggs. Young sea turtles are eaten by seabirds, crabs, and carnivorous fish. Adults may be eaten by tiger sharks.
Humans, however, are the greatest threat to sea turtles. People harvest adults and eggs, disturb nesting beaches, pollute, and fish in ways that are harmful to turtles.
The Aquarium’s green sea turtle was born, we estimate, in 1998. In 2000, this sea turtle stranded in Long Island Sound and was rescued by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
Weighing just 6 pounds, this small turtle was cold stunned and had an infected left front flipper. The flipper was not treatable and was amputated. Almost two years later, and several pounds heavier, the turtle was donated to the National Aquarium. At the time it was believed that the sea turtle could not be returned to the wild as it would not survive in the wild minus a flipper. After three months in quarantine, the turtle, nicknamed Calypso, moved to the Wings in the Water exhibit.
A decade later, Calypso weighs an impressive 490 pounds. In April of 2012, the Aquarium celebrated Calypso’s 10-year anniversary!
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