|This page forms part of Project Species and considered an phase 2 article (started but not complete). Please consider adding more knowledge to this page. See Project Species for more information.
The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is a species of large sea turtle that belongs to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in its genus and has a wide, smooth shell that can be brown, green, black, or gray. The green sea turtle is named for the greenish color of its fat and cartilage, not its shell. It is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle and can weigh up to 400 pounds. Unlike other sea turtles, the green sea turtle is mostly herbivorous, feeding on seagrasses and algae. This helps maintain the health and productivity of the seagrass beds, which are important habitats for many marine animals. The green sea turtle lives in tropical and subtropical waters around the world and migrates long distances between its feeding grounds and nesting beaches. It is classified as endangered by the IUCN and faces threats from over-harvesting, illegal trade, fisheries bycatch, fishing gear, plastic pollution and loss of nesting sites (habitat loss).
- Habitat loss and degradation: Sea turtles depend on healthy beaches and oceans for their survival. However, human activities such as coastal development, pollution, climate change, and invasive species have degraded or destroyed many of their habitats.
- Poaching and illegal trade: Sea turtles and their eggs are hunted for their meat, shells, skin, and oil. Some people also collect them as pets or souvenirs. The illegal trade in sea turtle products is a lucrative business that fuels organized crime and corruption.
- Bycatch and entanglement: Sea turtles often get caught in fishing gear such as nets, hooks, lines, and traps. They can drown or suffer serious injuries from the gear. They can also get entangled in marine debris such as plastic bags, balloons, and fishing lines.
- Predation and disease: Sea turtles face natural predators such as sharks, crabs, raccoons, dogs and birds. They can also contract diseases such as fibropapillomatosis (FP), a tumor-causing virus that affects their eyesight and immune system.
Its range extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but it is also found in the Indian Ocean.
Green turtle swimming over coral reefs in Kona
Green Sea Turtle grazing on seagrass