This has been such an amazing week! I’ve always vacationed in the Keys with my family but this was totally different. I absolutely loved diving at all the different sites with all the diverse marine habitats to observe. I would like to thank Dr. Hanisak and Dr. Voss again for organizing such an amazing week! I have learned so much from the both of them because they are just filled with relevant knowledge and passion that we (the students) admire and wish to emulate. As we were on our very first boat ride to our mangrove island site on Monday morning, I made it very clear to everyone that I was determined to see a sea turtle...and I did!!! We saw so many sea turtles on the boat rides and every time someone yelled turtle you bet that I was already standing on the seat looking for it. I became a little obsessed. Well, on our second day, second site, almost everyone in our class saw two green sea turtles while snorkeling. Our AMAZING GA Reena got some great close-up pictures of them. Unfortunately, I did not see this particular juvenile. Apparently everyone was yelling for me, which made me smile :) Even though I missed the little guy pictured below, I’m glad that others in my group got to see them. It was so awesome to see them in the wild; I loved every minute of it. So, now you know why I decided to research Chelonia mydas.
|Green turtle found at Alligator Reef while snorkeling|
Green turtles are known for their small heads and green-colored body fat. They have an olive-brown colored shell and have an average weight of 300 pounds. Adult green turtles are mostly herbivorous, as juveniles they feed on jellyfish, crabs, and fish. Because they are cold-blooded, they are able to hold their breath longer in cold water. Green sea turtles are most abundant in the western Atlantic but are typically found all over.
It is known that the females are the only ones that come ashore, just to nest. They will typically return to the same shore as they were born to nest. They typically lay 100-200 eggs at a time and they take two months to hatch. Nesting season is typically June to September. Maturity is between 10-24 years.
|Sea turtle nest found at Bahia Honda State Park|
Humans pose a major threat to sea turtles. These threats can range from marine debris to development, to accidental catching and even boating. Since 1989, shrimpers are required to use TEDs (turtle-excluder devices). These encase a trapped door for turtles if they are accidentally caught. Since this change, mortality rate has decreased by 11,000 turtles a year. As for coastal development, homes are being built on shorelines every day, ruining sea turtle habitat. There are several outreach and recovery options for people to participate in which include funding for nesting programs, and education. Don't forget to pick up your trash and save the turtles!