The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle's species is Chelonia mydas. In Hawaii, however, this green sea turtle is known by its Hawaiian name Honu.

It is believed the green sea turtle reaches sexual maturity around 25 years and can live up to 80 years of age.

Sea turtles start off as hatchlings weighing about one ounce and having a carapace length of 2 inches. Sexually mature turtles will have carapaces at least 2 1/2 feet long and weigh 200 -350 pounds. Adults grow to a carapace length of 3 1/2 feet and weigh an average of 400 pounds.

Juvenile green sea turtles are omnivorous, feeding on plankton and fish eggs floating near the ocean surface. Adult Green sea turtles are primarily vegetarians feeding on nearshore algae, or limu pastures. They don't travel far from their home feeding range, except when nesting.

The carapace is a modeled dark brown on top and creamy white below. This countershading conceals the turtle from predators; making it difficult to distinguish its dark upper carapace from the sea floor or its white plastron from the lighter sky.

Upon sexual maturity the green sea turtle makes an amazing journey every two to three years to nest. They leave their feeding grounds in the main Hawaiian Islands and travel over 600 miles to French Frigate Shoals, their main breeding grounds, in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Here they will mate and lay their eggs on these small islands. The males can be distinguished from the females by its long tail. Mating starts in March and females lay their eggs between late-April and September. At night the female crawls onto the island to dig a body pit with its front flippers. The hind flippers are used to excavate an egg chamber. Females lay up to five or six clutches of eggs throughout the breeding season, with each clutch containing 100 to 120 ping-pong ball sized eggs. The female then gently covers the nest by flinging dirt over it with its flippers. Hatching begins in July after about 60 days of incubation, and occurs at night. Hatchlings weigh about one ounce and fit in the palm of your hand. Working as a group, hatchlings dig to the surface of the nest. During the cool night, the entire nest boils out of the sand and heads to the water, attracted to the light reflected off the ocean. Ghost crabs and reef fish pose a primary threat to the hatchlings. After reaching the water, the hatchlings disappear and are not seen by humans until they appear as juveniles in the near-shore waters of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Latest news about the Hawaii turtles

(”A promise is a promise, Lieutenant Dan” —Forrest Gump) Canadians ...
Mississauga, Canada - Aug 31, 2008

Every single image in this book is exactly as we'd hoped—they show Hawaii's sea turtles in all their charismatic beauty. The Book of HONU is in fact, ...
Explore the delights — snorkeling, sea turtles, shaved ice — of ...
Seattle Times, United States - Aug 24, 2008

Hawaii 83, which follows it, soon brings you to Waimea Bay Beach Park. It's a relatively calm area for swimming where the Waimea River flows into the sea. ...
Biologists launch effort to clean up lost fishing gear off
San Jose Mercury News,  USA - 20 hours ago

They also can entangle whales and turtles, injuring and sometimes killing the animals. "One of the problems is that we can't see below the surface. ...

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Atlantis Submarines celebrates 20th anniversary
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, HI - Aug 30, 2008

However, for Yabuuchi, the chance to see a live sea turtle in its natural habitat made the whole trip worthwhile. "This was the most memorable part of our ... News
Sailor in the Spotlight Interview - Marcus Eriksen of JUNK News, Spain - 12 hours ago

I grew up in Louisiana, and my friends and I used to take hikes down to the swamp to collect alligators and turtles. I was always the one doing crazy stuff. ...
Education and Conservation Benefits of Marine Wildlife Tours ...
RedOrbit, TX - Aug 30, 2008

Howard (2000) found that 74% of visitors (37 of 50) surveyed 6 months after visiting a sea turtle beach reported talking to friends or family about turtles, ...


Historically man has been the greatest predator of the sea turtle, killing it for its meat, shell, and eggs while driving it almost to extinction. Beach erosion washes some of the nests into the ocean, and turtles occasionally dig up each others nests while laying their own eggs. Hatchling turtles also have to escape ghost crabs and reef fish as they try to make their way out to sea. As adults the only predators turtles have besides man are sharks.

Sea turtles can become entangled in debris such as discarded netting. Dead sea turtles that have washed ashore have been found with plastics in their digestive system, possibly leading to their death. In certain areas, up to 50 % of the turtles in the main Hawaiian Islands have a type of tumor called a fibropapilloma. Tumors as large as a grapefruit can grow all over the turtle. Problems occur when they cover the eyes of the turtle, making it hard to see, or grow in the mouth or throat, inhibiting feeding.

Listed as a threatened species and protected in Hawaii under state law, the federal Endangered Species Act, and listed under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal to import or export turtle products. It is illegal to kill, capture, or harass sea turtles.

You can help turtle researchers by reporting nesting, basking, injured, or dead sea turtles in Hawaii to the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources at (808) 243-5294 or the National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu at (808) 943-1221. Mistreatment, harassment, or killing of sea turtles should be reported to the Enforcement Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service at (808) 541-2727 or the State Conservation and Resources Enforcement Maui office at (808) 243-5414. For information on sea turtles call Pacific Whale Foundation, (808) 879-8860.

  • Participate in the nation-wide beach clean-up held every October.
  • Don't litter.
  • Help clean up our beaches.
  • Dispose of your garbage properly.
  • Don't take your groceries home in plastic bags.
  • Purchase items in bulk instead of small, convenience sizes.
  • Recycle (reuse) boxes, envelopes, news papers and packing materials.
  • Purchase items packaged in cardboard or paper instead of plastic or styrofoam.
  • Take cans, bottles, used motor oil, batteries and newspapers to recycling centers.
  • Recycle stationery and paper by using the backs for lists and scratch paper.
  • Buy recycled products.
  • Hold onto your balloons!
We can all help protect the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle by immediately reporting any sightings of mistreatment, harassment or killing of sea turtles.

Balazs, G.H., 1976. Hawaiian Seabirds, Turtles, and Seals. World Wide
Distributors, Honolulu, HI.
Balazs, G.H., 1980. Synopsis of biological data on the green turtle in the Hawaiian Islands. U.S. Dep. Com., NOAA Tec. Mem. NMFS-SWFC-7.
Bustard, Robert H., 1972. Sea Turtles Natural History and Conservation.
Taplinger, New York.
Carr, Archie, 1984. So Excellent a Fishe: A Natural History of Sea Turtles.
Scribner's, New York.
Turtle Trax -- "A Page Devoted to Marine Turtles."

For more information, contact us at:
Pacific Whale Foundation
101 North Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96768

Copyright 1999 Pacific Whale Foundation
May be duplicated only in its entirety for classroom use.

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