Sea turtles spend almost their entire life in water, more so than the turtle species categorized in the Terrestrial section. Plus, they have flippers, which pretty much makes sure they are not going to do much hiking on land.
How long do they live? Researches are just not sure. Some Green sea turtles do not reach sexual maturity until around 50 years old, so it’s likely this slow maturing creature can exceed 100 years old. We do know, however, that they can live to at least 80 years of age .
Where are they found? Green sea turtles inhabit tropical and subtropical regions all around the world, but they do come on to land to lay eggs .
What do they eat? They are herbivores and live off of sea grass and algae. See figure 1 for the most adorable dinner date ever.
What do they look like? Check out figures 1, 2, 3, and 4. That’s much easier than me trying to describe these beauties. They can grow to be over 3 feet long and exceed 350 pounds .
How do they reproduce? Females lay eggs on beaches, which you may have noticed are the same place humans build condos. They tend to lay eggs along the central and southeast coast of Florida and nesting season is the only time females leave the water; males never leave it at all. These sea turtles do not reach sexual maturity until between 20 and 50 years old and can lay up to 200 eggs [1,2]. Hatchlings instinctively head to the water, but increasing light pollution along the beaches confuses the babies and they will crawl towards the lights rather the water.
How do scientists know how old they are? They don’t. Age estimations are based on sexual maturity rates and size.
What are we lacking? If you’ve read other entries then you know what I’m about to type: we need an age analysis method that can be used on living animals (without harming them). Since this species is so slow to sexually mature, there’s no reproductive senescence data available (that I could find). It’s a bit disturbing that I can find a lot of information about the hearing efficiency of Green sea turtles on PubMed, but absolutely zero information about their lifespan. The nuclear genome of Chelonia mydas is available on the NCBI.
Conservation status: They’re endangered as listed by the IUCN list of Threatened species. Oh, you want to know why? Because even though it is highly illegal (in most places) to eat Green sea turtles or their eggs, people still do it. They need beach space to lay their eggs, something humans really like to build on. We’re also really bad about lighting up everything like it’s the 4th of July, which leads tiny adorable babies to your condo instead of the water. Needless to say this is a death sentence for hatchlings. Green sea turtles are also commonly caught in fishing nets and drown. Don’t forget pollution, you see our garbage looks a lot like food to sea turtles. Sadly, plastic is not a good substitute for sea grass. Moral of this story: must your retirement savings go to destroying the habitat of another species? If yes, then could you please turn off your lights at night? Are you the type of person that will pay big bucks to eat sea turtle eggs because you think it will validate your power over other creatures? Perhaps you should reconsider your life choices and existence in general. Are you still depending on plastic bags for everything? Try using a recycled bag or maybe just your hands. You don’t really need to bag an item that you can easily just carry.
- National Wildlife Federation. Green Sea Turtle. https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Sea-Turtles/Green-Sea-Turtle.aspx Accessed 11/2/2016
- NOAA Fisheries. Green Sea Turtle. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/green.html Accessed 11/2/2016