Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

© 2000 by Image Quest 3-D
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Photograph by Carlos Villoch

(PHYLUM: Chordata, CLASS: Reptilia, ORDER: Testudines, FAMILY: Cheloniidae)


This Green Sea Turtle is pictured swimming over a reef where, as a strict herbivore when adult, it forages for sea grasses and algae. Although green turtles surface every ten to thrity minutes for air, they can stay submerged for many hours at a time if necessary and will often rest underwater in crevices or below overhanging coral shelves.

Green sea turtles, so called due to the colour of their flesh, live in tropical waters all over the world - for example in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The only time they emerge from the water is when they are nesting. Males and females mature between 10 and 24 years and the breeding season depends on the latitude. Internal fertilization takes place when the male and female copulate in underwater unison. Like in many animal species, there is male competition for mates. Sometimes the female will retain enough sperm to nest several times that year. Nesting occurs every three to six years. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the water, crawls onto the sand and starts digging for hours, before depositing a clutch of 100 to 200 eggs. She covers the eggs with sand to protect them from the sun, heat, and predators. Pacific green turtles lay fewer eggs than Atlantic green turtles. The gestation period is 40 to 72 days, depending on the location.

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2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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