The Great Green Turtle Faces Many Threats

Do you remember Crush the sea turtle from the movie Finding Nemo? He took long, awesome journeys across the ocean. So do many green turtles. Green turtles are very interesting; from their horny plates that serve as teeth, to the 1,600 eggs they lay every year, there is much to learn about these unique creatures.

The green turtle can only live in waters warmer than 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Here, they can find lots of fleshy food such as jellyfish, sea urchins, and algae. Instead of using standard teeth to eat all of this food, the turtle's jaw has horny plates that can cut through vegetation.

Typically, the green turtle weighs down between 55 and 270kg, but it can grow as heavy as 400kg. In length, the green turtle is 70 to 150 cm, or about two and a half to five feet.

The bottom of the green turtle's shell is called the plastron and it has openings on both sides so the turtle can move it's limbs easily. Green turtles also use their strong front flippers to move and swim through water. Near the green turtle's eyes there is a special tear gland, which additionally helps the turtle stay in water because it gets rid of excess salt.

Male and female green turtles differ. The tail of a female is shorter than a male's tail, for example. Further, the male's tail extends about 20cm farther than its upper shell. When turtles are mating, the male's tail curls around the female's rump to bring his cloaca to the right position. The male's fore flippers are curved on the edge of each side so that he can grab the female as they mate. Some green turtles can lay up to 200 eggs per clutch. Females lay one to eight clutches each season.

Sadly, the green turtle species is endangered. Hunting, pollution in the ocean, and the destruction of their habitats are all major threats to this species. Hopefully, legislation can decrease these threats and preserve green turtles!

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals ]