Chelonia Mydas

Tortuga Prieta

The green turtle, the most majestic and charismatic of the turtles, has a shiny heart-shaped oval shell and an elongated, refined face that makes it look like a creature out of a fairy tale, perfectly made.

Its carapace has four pairs of lateral scutes that are sometimes irregular and not serrated like the tortoiseshell. The color of its carapace can vary in adults, from pale green to dark green or yellow, sometimes with bright stripes when in the water. Once the shell dries, it darkens and loses its luster. The plastron has a characteristic yellow color. Its head is round with a serrated jaw and has a pair of distinctive prefrontal scales located in front of its eyes.

The name green turtle is due to the color of the fat located under its shell. This fat and all its muscles are well known to be a culinary delicacy, which is why green turtles have been hunted and exploited for years, one of the main reasons why they are currently endangered.

The green turtle is a specialized grass eater. Its diet is omnivorous as a juvenile, but as an adult it becomes essentially vegetarian. Its wide and strong beak is very efficient for grazing.

As for reproduction, it takes several decades for the green turtle to reach sexual maturity. The time from egg stage to adulthood can be 10 to 50 years. Females do not reproduce every year; it depends on the remigration interval, which ranges from 1 to 9 years. They come to nest on the beach, usually at night and solitary, returning to the beaches where they hatched or to very close areas. They may nest from one to eight times during the season. The average number of eggs per clutch is 125 and they incubate in the sand for 45 to 70 days, depending on the temperature.

Green turtles feed, hatch and breed in temperate subtropical and tropical waters around the world. They are most commonly found near protected coasts and islands, especially in areas with seagrass beds. In the Mexican Pacific, nesting has been reported in the Baja California peninsula, in Los Cabos, and from the state of Sinaloa to Chiapas, with the greatest abundance on the beaches of Colola and Maruata in the state of Michoacán, and on the beaches of Islas Clarión and Socorro in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Green turtles in the Pacific are different from other green turtles in the world. Due to the emergence of Central America from the sea and the formation of the Isthmus of Panama approximately 3 to 5 million years ago, sea turtles became isolated from each other. The tortoises of Baja California, Mexico, southern Peru and Galapagos are darker, so they are commonly called black tortoises. In addition to differences in color, they also differ in shape, size and the number of eggs they lay.

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list, this species is endangered. There are large declines in subpopulations in all major ocean basins over the past three generations as a result of overharvesting of eggs and adult females on nesting beaches, juveniles and adults in feeding areas and, to a lesser extent, mortality related to marine bycatch and degradation of marine and nesting habitats.