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Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Photo by Caitlin Faulkner shot from aboard Royal Hawaiian Catamaran

Hawaiian Sea Turtles
Hawaii Green Sea Turtles
Facts about Green Sea Turtles
Snorkeling with Green Sea Turtles

Select Facts About Sea Turtles

Hawaii Sea Turtles

Snorkeling with Hawaiian
Green Sea Turtles

Green Sea Turtles

Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Leatherback Sea Turtles

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle History

Sea Turtle Protection

Threats Currently Facing
Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles
References and Links

Green Sea Turtle - Chelonia mydas

The most common or the three native Hawaiian species is the green sea turtle. The largest of the hard-shelled turtles, Green Sea Turtles weigh up to 440 pounds and measuring up to 4 feet. People often notice that, other than algae growing on their shell, Green Sea Turtles are not very green. They actually were named for the green color of their fatty tissues, due to their diet of green limu (seaweed). Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle shells are mostly dark brown and may be covered with patches of green algae. In a symbiotic relationship, they are sometimes cleaned by small fish that pick at the algae, feeding the fish and cleaning the turtle.

Little is known about sea turtles' early lives. Researchers call the first few years or the turtle’s life the lost years. Green Sea turtles float in open ocean (pelagic) currents feeding on a carnivorous (animal based) diet. At 3-5 years of age, they move closer to shore where they feed on limu (algae and seagrass).

Slow-growing reptiles, Hawaii Green Sea Turtles do not reach sexual maturity until somewhere between 10 and 59 years of age, on average 25 years. Until maturity it is difficult to tell males from females. Upon maturity the males are identified by tails that are thick and long, females by short, stubby tails.

Development around the world has destroyed many green sea turtle nesting beaches. More than 90% of Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles nesting activity takes place from 800 to 1500 miles away, as far as French Frigate Shoals in the isolated Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The males follow the females on this migration and breeding takes place off the nesting beaches. Hawaiian green turtles breed every two or more years. From late April through September, females lay their eggs above the high water line. They haul their heavy bodies across the beach where they dig a pit for their own bodies, then a flask-shaped nest where they deposit the eggs. They can deposit up to seven clutches of eggs at 12 to 14 day intervals. They cover the eggs with sand using their flippers and return to the sea leaving the nest full of round, leathery eggs to incubate in the warm sand until they hatch. All the hatchlings contribute to the job of not being buried alive as they struggle to unbury themselves once they hatch.

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