Thursday, August 5, 2010

Green turtle (chelonia mydas)

Did you know, that out of the seven species of sea turtle found worldwide, five can be found right here in Sri Lanka? The green turtle is one of them and is the most widespread of the turtle species. As one of the largest sea turtles these monsters often grow up to 1.5m in length and weigh up to 200kg – that about the same weight as 3.5 adults!

A female green turtle will journey back to the same beach every 2-5 years to lay her eggs, often thousands of kilometres. She can lay up to 9 clutches each containing around 100-150 eggs. Using her back flippers to dig a deep hole in the sand, she buries them for protection. After 45 – 70 days the babies hatch and make a dash for the sea. Many don’t make it, getting eaten by birds and crabs on the way, or becoming disorientated by bright lights from nearby beach bars. Unlike other turtles, all adults are herbivores, feeding mostly on marine grasses and algae. Their young however are omnivores – meaning they eat both plants and other sea life, including jellyfish and molluscs.

Green turtles are an endangered species. They are relentlessly hunted for their meat and eggs and often die when caught up in fishing nets. The destruction and pollution of their habitats and nest sites also reduces their numbers.

Did you know?

• Nest temperature determines whether the young are male or female; studies show lower temperatures tend to produce males and higher temperatures produce females!

• Streamlined shells and powerful flippers make these turtles fantastic swimmers able to swim at speeds of up to 30mph.

• Green turtles can cry! Glands behind the eyes produce big salty tears to help get rid of excess salt in the turtle’s body.

» Find out how else you can help to protect Sri Lanka's endangered species

Illustration by Asia Hewapathirana

1 comment:

  1. I liked your post.
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