Identifying green sea turtles is not that simple...
When you look at a sea turtle, you would think that their common name (Green Turtle) will give you the perfect description of the specie. However, when you found out that their carapace color varies from dark green (called black sea turtle on the Pacific) to yellow, brown and green tones with shining stripes, it could be confusing!
Here some key facts, which can help you the next time you will be swimming with turtles in the Riviera Maya or in your next snorkeling adventure around the world.
Green turtle, white turtle, black turtle are the same species, the scientific name is Chelonia mydas, what they have in common and is totally different from other species are:
- One pair of prefrontal scales
- Serrated jaw, with small and round head
- Carapace is bony without ridges, non overlapping scales
Green turtles are found in all temperate and tropical waters around the world.
They like to live in bays and protected shores like the Akumal bay, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, where they can find a delicious sea grass bed. Adults green turtles are complete herbivorous but when they are less than 8 to 10 inches in length eat worms, young crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses and algae.
Adults can weigh 240-420 pounds (110 – 190 kg) and from 3 to 4 feet in carapace length (83 – 114 cm). They could live up to 80 years.
A nest has a size around 70-190 eggs depending on the turtles. In addition, in one nest you can find eggs from different mates with the same female turtle.
Green turtles has some threats to survival, like fishing, lost of the habitat, commercial trading of the eggs. Also the climate change is shifting the population on males and females. If the temperature of the sand where the turtle’s nest is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) the turtles will be predominately male; above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) predominately female
The green turtle is an endangered specie, the best way to conserve it is to protect their habitat and sighting them with precaution, just remember that 1 from 1,000 would survive to be an adult.
We are really lucky in the Riviera Maya to able to swim with the turtles. If you are interested in that activity, check our special Swim with turtles tour and also the Akumal bay regulation in order to protect the turtles.
Hoping that we could have a better relationship in the future and our younger generation could continue sighting these ancestral animals!