Like the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), more than half of the seven species of sea turtle are classified as endangered or critically endangered. The green turtle is a large sea turtle, weighing up to 700 pounds (317.5 kg), and the only herbivorous species. Green turtles can be found in tropical and subtropical areas around the globe. Other sea turtles can be found in warm and temperate waters throughout the world. There are two types of green turtles—the Atlantic green turtle and the Eastern Pacific green turtle. Unlike other turtle and tortoise species, sea turtles cannot retract their legs and heads into their shells. Sea turtles migrate hundreds of miles between nesting and feeding grounds. To lay eggs, a female crawls out on a beach during the night, digs a nest in the sand with her front flippers, and lays eggs. Green turtles can live up to 80 years in the wild. They get their common name from the color of the fat found beneath the carapace, not for the color of their shells. Their shells can be olive, brown, grey, black, or a combination of these colors. Despite protections for green turtles throughout much of their range, many threats still exist. They are threatened by overharvesting of eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and as bycatch, pollution and marine debris (especially plastic), global warming, and destruction and degradation of nesting beach sites. Many organizations and agencies in several countries are engaged in sea turtle research and conservation.
Photo and haiku by: Samantha Oester