Green Sea Turtle: Chelonia mydas


Green turtles are named for the green-colored body fat attached to their lower shell, the key ingredient of once popular green turtle soup. Green turtles have a more streamlined look than bulky loggerheads. They have a small head for their body size, which averages about 300 pounds with a shell about 3.3 feet in length. Their upper shell is oval and olive-brown with dark streaks running through it and its lower shell is yellow.


Florida hosts one of the largest grouping of green turtle nests in the western Atlantic. More than 37,000 green sea turtle nests were documented in Florida in 2015, a record number. During the day, green turtles occupy shallow flats and seagrass meadows. In the evening, they return to their sleeping quarters of rock ledges, oyster bars and coral reefs.


Adult green turtles have a mostly vegetarian diet of seagrasses and algae, unlike other sea turtles. They have been greatly impacted by human behavior. European settlers in the New World ate green turtle meat, eggs and fat. Once merchants discovered they could be kept alive by turning them on their backs in shaded areas, green turtles were shipped overseas. By 1878, the trade included 15,000 green turtles a year sent from Florida and the Caribbean to England, with Key West as a major processing center. Turtles were sometimes kept in water-filled pens known as "kraals" or corrals, and a few still exist today as tourist attractions.

Additional Information:

Green turtle nesting in Florida:

Green sea turtle federal recovery plan: Adobe PDF

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FWC Facts:
Seagrasses are different from seaweeds (macroalgae) because they have true roots, leaves, internal veins and produce flowers.

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