The female Green Turtle might lay between 100 and 200 eggs each time she nests, but the species is still on the endangered list. In fact, those that live in the Mediterranean are critically endangered.
Green Turtles don’t have an easy life. As young they are vulnerable to attack from the moment they are born until they begin to reach their full size. Then they start to attract the attention of Tiger Sharks! Amazingly though, some adult Green Turtles are believed to reach the grand old age of 150 years old!
It’s remarkable really when you look at their life cycle. And that always begins at a very special beach.
Green Turtles, like many turtles, are intriguing creatures. Hatchlings spend the first year of their lives floating about on ocean currents feeding on small invertebrates and plants. No one knows where they get to but it is believed that those who reappear in shallow waters after their first year will have travelled thousands of miles. Despite being primarily herbivorous, juveniles eat small marine creatures, such as jellyfish, molluscs and sponges. Once they have reached maturity the turtles return to their ‘home’ beaches. Once back in the shallows they graze on turtle grass and other marine plants.
‘Home’ will be the isolated sandy beach where they were hatched. Once the male and female have mated the female can store the sperm until she is ready to nest, something that happens every 3-6 years. Once ready she makes her way to the beach, digs a hole with her flippers and deposits her eggs. She covers them over to protect them from the sun and heads back out to sea. 6-8 weeks later the young hatch and make a desperate dash for the sea. Many are eaten by crabs and seabirds before they get there.
In Turkey the nests and young are predated by Red Foxes and Golden Jackals.
As well as natural predators, the Green Turtle suffers greatly at the hands of humans. They are still killed for their meat and eggs and are often killed by boat propellers, fishing nets and the destruction of their nesting environments by development.
The range of The Green Turtle extends throughout tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. There are two major subpopulations, the Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific subpopulations. Each population is genetically distinct, with its own set of nesting and feeding grounds within the population's known range.
The Green Turtle is so called because of the green colour of its fat. Their greenish-brown upper shell is wide and smooth and the limbs are paddle-like for swimming. They are very well streamlined and are powerful swimmers. Green Turtles have a small head, which they cannot retract into the shell.
They are one of the largest marine turtles, reaching between 0.7-1.5m in shell length and weighing up to 200kg.
Read more about the Green Turtle