Green sea turtle
Episode #7 of the course “The Most Endangered Species in the World”
After losing over half their numbers in the last century, the 85,000 or so remaining green sea turtles in the world are listed as endangered. Huge and gentle creatures, the green sea turtle can be up to 4 feet and weigh an average of 350 pounds, but some have been measured as large as 700 pounds. Named for the color of its skin rather than its large shell, green sea turtles range from olive brown to lighter green, with brown and white patterns on their head and shades of white and yellow on their undersides.
Their lifespan is about a century, and green sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water. They inhabit the shallow waters along the coasts of Florida, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, feeding on the plant life in coastal waters. The green sea turtle will come on land to sunbathe and to nest their eggs, but they don’t reach mating maturity until about 10 years old, and they spend the majority of their adolescence in the water.
Green sea turtles may travel far from the beach on which they were born, and they will swim across entire oceans to return to that same beach during the annual mating season. Although adult males can mate every year, females return to their natal beaches about every 3-4 years. The males arrive first and wait along the coasts for the females. After females arrive, they lay nests of about 150 eggs and return to the sea, leaving the hatchlings to find their own way across the beach. This is the most dangerous time in a green sea turtle’s life.
Many baby sea turtles are preyed upon on their short run to the waves, and others are confused by light pollution near the beaches. The turtle hatchlings move toward the light rather than the ocean, which contributes to their high mortality rate and their endangered species status.
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