Green Sea Turtle: Chelonia mydas

24 Apr

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

One summer morning just before sunrise last year, my friend and I went searching for sea turtles laying eggs on Playalinda Beach in Titusville. At first looking down the beach, I didn’t see anything on the sand. As I walked to the water, I saw in the distance, something tumbling in the surf.

 

I thought it was debris, but decided to quickly head over to investigate. Much to my delight, it was a pair of mating green sea turtles. Oblivious of me standing there, the surf brought them closer and closer to the beach.

 

Normally sea turtles mate under the water, but nature was calling and all focus was on procreation as the waves tested their endurance.

 

Finally they were separated by a large wave and disappeared into the surf. As I turned to go back, another beautiful green sea turtle has just finished laying her eggs. She was very late. Exhausted she was heading back to sea when I noticed her. She was there all the time and I didn’t see her. She was hidden, almost into the dunes.

Here is a wonderful picture I found on the web of what egg laying looks like from inside the hole she dug.

 

 

Below are some interesting facts about green sea turtles I researched on the web.

Green turtle mating happens in the water. A bit of an aquatic turtle dance precedes copulation.  Males nip and bump and eventually mount the female. The male turtle hangs on to the front edge of the female’s shell with a pair of large recurved claws.  The male’s tail has another “claw” at the end.  Sexual maturity is reached between the ages of 20 to 50 years old.

 

 

The green sea turtle is a marine-dwelling species that can reach a length of 3.2 feet  and a weight up to 400 pounds. The name can be confusing as the green sea turtle carapace (top portion of the shell) is not actually green, the body fat is green. This turtle species has a black carapace and a white plastron (lower shell portion).

Adult green sea turtles are herbivores. The jaw is serrated to help the turtle easily chew its primary food source—sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green sea turtles are omnivores. They eat a wide variety of plant and animal life, including insects, crustaceans, sea grasses, and worms.

During the breeding season, late spring and early summer, male sea turtles will migrate to off-shore waters to mate with females. Nesting seasons vary in the different geographical areas of their range; however, the Florida population nests between the months of June and September.

Female green sea turtles come onshore at night to deposit eggs, a process that can take up to two hours to finish. The average clutch size is 110-115 eggs.

Green sea turtles can nest up to seven times per season. 

Once the female lays the eggs and buries them in the sand, she returns to the ocean leaving her young to safeguard themselves. The incubation time for the eggs is two months. Hatchlings will migrate to the ocean after emerging from the nest. During migration, juveniles face an array of problems including predation and losing their way to the ocean.

The green sea turtle faces many threats both on land and in the water. The main threat to green sea turtles at sea is entanglement in fishing gear such as long lines, monofilament fishing line, nets, and crab trap lines. When entangled in marine debris, the green sea turtle cannot escape and usually drowns.

Green sea turtles are also harvested illegally in some countries for their meat and eggs.

On land, increased beach development is an ongoing threat for sea turtles as development can lead to degradation of the habitat, and limit the amount of nesting sites available. Coastal development also increases artificial lighting which can cause hatchlings to migrate towards the lights instead of the ocean. Other threats include increased predation on eggs, hits by watercraft, and habitat degradation from contaminants and pollutants (ex. oil spills).

The green sea turtle is protected as an Endangered species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Endangered species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule , and by Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act (379.2431, Florida Statutes) 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

3 Responses to “Green Sea Turtle: Chelonia mydas”

  1. Onisha Ellis April 25, 2018 at 8:35 pm #

    I think it is amazing the way turtles are not spooked by humans. You were able to get some wonderful shots!

    Like

  2. divoran09 April 24, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

    This was really well-done and interesting. Wasn’t it wonderful that you were there just at that time to photograph the turtles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Louise Gibson April 24, 2018 at 9:01 am #

    How interesting, Melody…..and very informative!

    Liked by 1 person

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