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Sea Turtles!

by Duke Jarboe


This shy guy right here is one of the many fantastic sea creatures cruising around the La Jolla Ecological Preserve. They’re rare to see, which makes finding them even more amazing. This is the Green Sea Turtle - Chelonia mydas.

It is the only species in the genus Chelonia. They travel throughout the tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This sea turtle's dorsoventrally flattened body is covered by a large, teardrop-shaped carapace; it has a pair of large, paddle-like flippers. It is usually lightly colored, although in the eastern Pacific populations parts of the carapace can be almost black. Unlike other members of its family, such as the hawksbill sea turtle, C. mydas is mostly herbivorous. The adults usually inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrasses.

Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as Turtle Island due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge and scramble into the water. Those that reach maturity may live to eighty years in the wild.

C. Mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries. It is illegal to collect, harm or kill them. In addition, many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger due to human activity. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are hunted for food. Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die caught in fishing nets. Also, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches.

So come play with Everyday California and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to swim with this magnificent turtle.  

Duke Jarboe
Duke Jarboe