Chelonia mydas (green turtle)

morphological characteristics

  • Biggest sea turtle with scutes
  • Carapace curved, oval or heart-shaped, off-peaked edges
  • 5 central, 4 costal and 11 marginal scutes; separated supracaudal-scutes; broad nuchal scute but no connect to the first costal scute
  • Plastron with 4 pairs of inframarginal scutes
  • Small head with one pair of prefrontal scales and 4 postocular scutes
  • Serrated lower jaw 
  • Each flipper has one claw
  • Carapace length: 80 - 130 cm  
  • Body weight: 80 - 120 kg

Green turtles feed almost exclusively on seagrass and occur in all tropical oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. Their major nesting beaches are in Tortuguero (Costa Rica), the Caribbean, South America, Australia and Indonesia. Females come to their nesting beaches every 3 years to dig a nest and deposit their eggs. During the nesting season, a female can make 2-5 nests with 40-200 eggs each. The incubation time is 50 to 70 days.



Since the 1940,s Chelonia mydas populations are threatened in Indonesia because of egg removal. In Japan this problem existed since the early 19th century. Furthermore, nesting females are captured and slaughtered for meat. In Australia about 100,000 individuals were once killed every year. In Polynesia, populations have declined by up to 90%. Intensive protection efforts in Borneo, Hawaii or Florida show only little success.

  Chelonia mydas is often divided into 2 subspecies:  

  1. Chelonia mydas mydas (green turtle) 
  2. Chelonia mydas agassizi (black turtle)