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
FURTHER READING & INFORMATION:
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."
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