Green Sea Turtles

  • measure.jpg
      VIMS marine technician Alison Smith works with graduate student Diane Tulipani to measure a juvenile green sea turtle.  
  • barnacles.jpg
      This juvenile green sea turtle measured 32 cm long (12.6 inches) and weighed 9 pounds. Several large barnacles are growing on its shell.  
  • Serrated Beak
    Serrated Beak   A serrated upper beak, used in eating sea grass, is a telling characteristic of green sea turtles.  
  • plastron.jpg
      The turtle's lower shell, or plastron, comprises a series of fused skeletal plates. The length of the tail is used to sex green sea turtles, but this method is difficult with juveniles.  
  • towels.jpg
      Researchers handle turtles gently and cover them with wet towels to keep the creatures cool and comfortable.  
  • release.jpg
      VIMS researcher Alison Smith prepares to release a tagged green sea turtle into the shallow waters of the York River.  
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Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are endangered in U.S. waters. Several juvenile turtles are seen in Chesapeake Bay during the late summer and early fall., their average length is ~ 30 cm (12 in). Adult green sea turtles feed on sea grasses and algae while juveniles are omnivorous, feeding on both aquatic plants and animals. These turtles are valued for their eggs and meat; they are named from the color of their fat.


Listed as "Endangered" in U.S.; globally "Threatened"   


Adults reach 300 - 400+ lbs, 36 - 43 inches

Sexual Maturity

Possibly 35-50+ years (Hawaiian Archipelago stock) (Balazs & Chaloupka 2004)

Nesting Habitat

Tropical/subtropical beaches; open beach

Juvenile Habitat

Florida Bay, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, South/Central America


Vegetarians, feed on sea grasses, algae; juveniles are omnivorous (eat both plants & animals)