Windspree Vacation Homes St John USVI

Not-so-Green Green Sea Turtle

Author: Windspree Vacation Homes 

green-sea-turtleGreen Sea Turtles are actually not green, but so named for the green fat found underneath their carapace (shell).

There are two genetically distinct populations of green sea turtles found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The US Virgin Islands have been identified as one of only a few major nesting sites for Green sea turtles. 

Green sea turtles migrate signicant distances from their feeding and nesting sites, some as much as 1500 miles at almost 2 miles/hour! Entire generations often migrate between one pair of feeding and nesting areas. 

Mature sea turtles often return to the same beach from which they were first hatched. While males return to their breeding site every year, female Green Sea Turtles only return to mate every two to four years.  Mating season in the Caribbean is from June to September.

hawksbill-green-sea-turtlesUnlike Hawksbill turtles, Green sea turtles have a short snout and are mostly herbivorous, eating marine plant life such as kelp, algae and various species of seagrasses. The shell of a Hawskbill turtle changes color patterns over time. Mature adult Green sea turtles can be entirely brown, spotted or marbled with variegated rays. Eastern Pacific populations can have very dark carapaces. The underbelly of a Green sea turtle is light yellow. 

Green sea turtles can live up to eighty years in the wild!  Their ecology changes drastically with each stage of development.  Newly emerged hatchlings are carnivorous and part of the open ocean, spending up to five years on the move until settling into their permanent shallow-water lifestyle.  Maturing juveniles and adults found near shore in lush seagrass beds are herbivorous. It is estimated that Green sea turtles do not reach sexual maturity for some twenty to fifty years!

Sea turtles in general spend almost all their lives submerged, yet rise to the top to breathe vital oxygen for survival. Sea turtle lungs permit a rapid exchange of oxygen and prevent gases from being trapped during deep dives. Sea turtle blood delivers oxygen efficiently to body tissues even at great depths. Green sea turtles surface for just a couple seconds between dives, which each lasts about four to five minutes.

Turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time if their activity is limited. When diving for food or escaping predators, oxygen is needed more frequently. 

Watch these graceful beings at home in their own habitat with a shoreline snorkel on St. John!  For accommodations to match every budget, checkout Windspree's amazing selection of vacation villas in Coral Bay, St. John.


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