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Green Turtle - Chelonia mydas
Photo by James Watt

Green turtles are one of the largest sea turtles ranging from 3 to 4 feet in length and weighing 250-450 pounds. Although their carapace is usually olive to brown and sometimes even black, they are called green turtles because of the color of their flesh and body fat. Their heads tend to look small compared to their body and they have large, paddle-like limbs used for swimming. When it is time to mate, females migrate from several hundred to over a thousand miles across the ocean to where they hatched. The hatchlings are usually black above and white below to make them less conspicuous to fish and bird predators.

Green Turtle
(Chelonia mydas)

Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans primarily in the tropical regions

Shallow waters with abundant seagrasses or algae, and sandy beaches for nesting females

Mostly seagrasses and algae, with small amounts of sponges, crustaceans, sea urchins, and mollusks


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Green turtle eggs incubate in the sand for approximately 48 to 70 days, but the incubation period can be longer when the weather is cool.

Learn More
- Smithsonian Marine Station
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- US Fish and Wildlife Service