Chelonia – Green (Pacific) sea turtle

Largest hard-shelled sea turtle on earth

More widely recognized as the green sea turtle, it carries a name that might imply a uniform coloration, but in reality, their appearance is much more diverse. The shells of these majestic creatures can exhibit a palette of colors, including brown, olive, gray, or black. This variation in coloration, however, does not detract from their distinct identity among sea turtles.

Adult green sea turtles are unique in their dietary preferences compared to their carnivorous juvenile stages. As adults, they adopt a herbivorous diet, primarily feasting on algae and sea grasses, which contributes to the health of the marine ecosystems by maintaining the seagrass beds and ensuring their area’s productivity and biological diversity. On the other hand, juvenile green turtles have a more omnivorous diet, consuming invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, and crabs, which helps control the populations of these species and maintains the ecological balance.

Green sea turtles are renowned for their extensive migratory journeys, traveling thousands of kilometers between their natal beaches, where they hatch, to their feeding grounds. This migratory behavior is crucial for their survival and reproduction, as it connects vital habitats at various life cycle stages.

The sex of green sea turtles is influenced by the incubation temperature of their eggs, with warmer sand-producing females and cooler sand-yielding males. Climate change is exacerbating this, dramatically skewing gender ratios in areas like the northern Great Barrier Reef, where female hatchlings now vastly outnumber males, with a ratio exceeding 116 to 1.