A green sea turtle swimming near the Galapagos Islands.
Green turtles have the most numerous and widely dispersed nesting sites of the seven species of sea
turtle. The Green turtle was once highly sought after for its body fat – a key ingredient in the popular delicacy, ‘green turtle soup.’ Its name actually comes from the greenish coloration of its body fat, or calipee
. Eastern Pacific Green turtles are termed ‘black turtles’ because of darker coloration, and are also smaller and lay fewer eggs than Green turtles elsewhere.
Green turtles were an important source of food (both meat and eggs) for European explorers to the New World. Although it is now illegal to trade them in many parts of the world, Green turtles and their eggs continue to be consumed by many coastal peoples.
Circumglobal; nesting areas throughout the tropics, often on islands, coral atolls, as well as mainland beaches; non-nesting range extends to temperate regions (during immature stages) .
Body size (adults)
Length 80-120 cm; mass up to 300 kg
For immature stages, soft-bodied invertebrates (e.g. jellies and jelly-like organisms); for later immature stages and adults, mainly herbivorous, but also sessile invertebrates (e.g. sea pens, soft corals).
Every 2-4 yr; ~2-5 clutches of eggs per season; 80-120 eggs per clutch; eggs ~40-50 grams (larger than ping pong balls); hatchlings emerge after ~60 days of incubation (are ~30-40mm in length and weigh ~25-30 grams).