Green Turtles have a dorsal shell or carapace that is brownish olive in color, smooth, and wide. Their plastron, or bottom side of their shell is yellow/ white in color. Green Turtles get their name from the greenish hue of their skin. Although most turtle have a head that retracts into their shell, green sea turtles does not have that biological trait. These graceful swimmers swim very quickly, reaching speeds up to 35 mph. Their streamline shells and paddle like flippers, help them to reach this level of speed. Although they live underwater, they breathe in air like we humans do. They can hold their breathe for hours at a time, and when it's time for them to breathe they glide up to the surface of the water to take in a couple deep breaths of air before continuing along their journey. Because sea turtles are cold blooded reptiles, the temperature of the water affects their ability to hold in air. In colder waters that can hold their breath in even longer.
Of course, due to the Green Sea Turtle's physical make up, their flippers allows them to swim quickly underwater, but on land causes them to move very slowly. During the nesting season, female sea turtles would come onto clean beaches (usually the beach where they were hatched) and drag slowly onto the shores. They dig a deep hole in the sand and lay their eggs. Green sea turtles can lay up to 200 eggs at a time! After laying the eggs they cover the hole and head back into the ocean. (Talk about bad parenting hahaha!) The eggs stay in the hole for about 2 months before they hatch.
'When the turtles hatch, they must speed into the waters, trying as best as they could to avoid natural predators.They practically fend for themselves. As juveniles, they feed on crabs, jelly fish, and other creatures. As adults they become herbivores, primarily feeding on turtle grass. Green Turtles can be found throughout the islands of the Bahamas! I've had the privilege of seeing a large number of them off the shores of Long Island, Cat Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, and a number of other Islands. They are also distributed in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.
These turtles are very beautiful, and in the past, they've been caught for food and their shell used for decorations. This lead to Green Sea Turtles endangered. The lifespan of the green turtle is unknown, but human activity such as catching these turtles and using them for food consumption etc has lead to them becoming endangered species. Plastic bags is another huge issue that these turtles face. They often times mistake plastic bags for food, and because plastic can not be digested, it gives them the feeling of being full and therefore causes them to die from starvation.
As environmentally aware citizens, it is our job to ensure that we protect our environment. First starting with simple life changes for ourselves that positively affect the environment, and then spreading that lifestyle to others, leading by example. It is our responsibility to get educated, and to educate others about the importance of sustaining our marine environment. We must set that example, by changing our way of living to promote environmental sustainability. Let us all shape the future of the Bahamas.
See you in the next blog!