Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are named for their green body fat. Their meat and eggs made them historically popular with hunters and has lead to a worldwide decline in green turtle populations. Populations in Florida are endangered, but we have seen an increase in nesting green turtles on our beaches in the past few years. Green turtles nest on our beaches during the summer months.
Green turtles are the largest of the hard-shelled turtles. Adults average a little less than a meter in length (about 3 feet) and can weigh 135-180 kilograms (300-400 pounds). They have a beautiful smooth, oval-shaped shell (carapace) that has shades of black, brown, green, and yellow running through it. Hatchling green turtles spend the first 3-5 years of their lives in the Sargasso Sea region of the Atlantic Ocean. At this life stage, the tiny turtles are carnivorous, feeding on small invertebrates. At about 25-35 centimeters (10-14 inches), green turtles migrate to nearshore reef habitats and begin feeding as herbivores on algae and seagrasses. They also enjoy the occasional jellyfish or two!