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sandy ripple blog post on the Galapagos green sea turtle

The Galapagos Green Sea Turtle

May 20, 2018

Galapagos Green Sea Turtle

The Galapagos Islands are a series of Islands that consists of 13 islands, 5 of which have people residing on them. 

The Islands are a very hot tourist spot and has a very interesting geological history. 

Some scientists are still baffled that such an amazing amount of different species have called the Islands home. 

It is even more baffling to find that out when it is known that the only species of turtle to nest on the Galapagos Island is the Pacific Green Turtle.  

Sea Turtles In The Galapagos

Pacific Green Sea Turtles are listed as an endangered species. 

They are the only species of turtle that nest on the Galapagos Islands, even though they can be found in a few places around the world. 

Females return to Galapagos year after year to give birth to their babies, and this is such a common occurrence that Galapagos shuts down areas of the island where the turtles lay their eggs. 

These turtles prefer to live in the tropical and subtropical area around the Pacific Islands and they differ from other turtles because they have a serrated lower jaw. 

They are a majestic and beautiful species that takes their time to get to where they need to go.  In fact, they are so unbothered by the outside World that the Galapagos Islands even offers tourists the ability to swim with the turtles.  The turtles are so calm and serene that you can get pictures of them without them even caring you are there.

 

 

Sea Dwellers

The Pacific Green Turtle lives in the sea their whole lives. 

The males stay in the water practically their whole lives, only coming to land to occasionally bask in the sun, as they are cold blooded creatures. 

Female Pacific Green Turtles only come on land when they are basking, or to lay their eggs. 

The females come up onto the bank at night, dig a hole to lay their eggs in, then escape back to the sea, never to see their eggs or their babies ever again. 

A year later, most females will go back to the same spot they laid eggs in before and do it again. 

Sometimes these females will return to the same locations for the entire extent of their egg producing life. 

The Galapagos is one of the main locations that these turtles go to lay their eggs, even though there are a few other places that these turtles frequent, the Galapagos is where they are known for laying their eggs.

Galapagos Green Turtle Bodies

Because these turtles are always in the ocean their bodies have evolved to be excellent ocean dwellers. 

Their shells are lighter, flatter and have an interesting shape that allows them to jet through the water quickly. 

They also have flipper like feet so that they can cut through the water to run from predators. 

Unlike their land dwelling counterparts, these turtles cannot duck their heads into their shells to stay safe, their shell is their skeleton. 

They need to be able to move quickly in the water if they have any chance of getting away from the larger predators that would eat them. 

Galapagos green sea turtle image

A swimming Galapagos green sea turtle - Image By Charles J. Sharp

They are blackish to olive-brown color and teardrop-shaped, tapering towards the rear. 

They are only called green sea turtles because the fat on the inside of their bodies is green, due to the algae that they eat in the ocean. 

Adult green turtles can grow up to one and a half meters long.

There have been some turtles caught that reached weights of up to 694 pounds, but the average weight of mature individuals is around 440 pounds. The largest Green Sea Turtle ever recorded weighed 871 pounds, which is a little over a half ton.  Regardless of being rather heavy themselves, their streamlined body shape and flippers allow them to move and cut quickly through the sea.

Salt Excreting Tear Ducts 

These sea dwelling turtles have also adapted to balance out the salt production in their bodies. 

Each sea turtle has a small pocket behind its eye that helps to eliminate the salt from the saltwater that they live in. 

Occasionally a sea turtle will be leaking from the eyes, or crying. 

This is nothing to be alarmed about. The turtle is not hurt or upset, it is balancing the salt in its system and clearing some of it out.

Galapagos Turtle Diet

Green Sea Turtles have much different diet than that of their land coming counterparts as well. 

When baby sea turtles start to eat they begin by eating the algae and seaweed that can easily be found in the sea they are living in. 

Once they start to get a feel for eating and their choppers start to develop they begin to eat things like jellyfish, shrimp and crustaceans. 

Once they get older their favorite foods become sea grass and mangrove leaves. 

When sea turtles dive for food they usually only stay under the water for periods of up to 5 to 10 minutes. 

Normally, when sea turtles take a rest, the little ones do so on the surface of the water, while the big ones stay underneath.

 

 

Motions

Sea turtles are not constantly moving around under the water and occasionally they need to take a rest. 

When a turtle is at rest they can stay underneath the ocean anywhere up to 5 hours. 

Baby sea turtles prefer to rest on top of the surface of the water, floating like little grayish, green pods. 

The drawback to this is that baby turtles are already easy food for predators and this makes them so much easier for birds and other predators to snatch up. 

Another time when the baby turtles are in grave danger, since they grow up from day one without their parents, is when they are making their way from their sand homes to the ocean.  

Baby Galapagos Green Sea Turtle Dangers

After a mother turtle lays her eggs in the sand, anywhere from 50 to 200. 

After about 45 to 55 days, the whole clutch of eggs will hatch. 

Normally all the eggs in a clutch hatch together, but there are rare instances where some eggs will hatch later than the other ones. 

Just like with many other reptiles and amphibians, the heat of the eggs at incubation normally determines the gender of the babies. 

The chances of baby turtles surviving their trip to the sea from their clutch is almost slim. 

They have to fight through insane odds to get to where they are supposed to be. 

When the babies hatch, more than one clutch hatches at a time. 

There are hundreds to thousands of baby turtles on the beach at once. 

This kind of action draws all of the predators to the area. 

Baby turtles have to go from their clutch to the sea making their way past cormorants, albatrosses, gulls, frigate-birds, crabs, hawks and countless other predators. 

This is definitely no easy task but if they can get it done, they will live to fight another day.

Conservation Status

Are Galapagos Green Turtles Endangered? Yes.

Currently these turtles are endangered and are highly protected. 

Because they are endangered the Galapagos Islands has begun to make sure that there is no access to their egg laying sites during mating and laying season, which is normally December through June, January through March being peak time. 

The Islands protect the turtles but they also have some neat attractions when it comes to the turtles. 

If you find yourself down that way you can always go swimming with the turtles. 

This gives a person the amazing chance to view these turtles in the natural habitat, and more often then not these people do not bother the turtles at all. 

It is almost as if they do not even notice the existence of the people.

These turtles are awesome and magnificent creatures that could be gone soon if we continue making the mistakes we currently make. 

Their homes are being decimated, they are being destroyed, we need to do something before we loose yet another animal. 

It's very important that we properly protect these turtles ecosystem, so that their species may continue to grow.

Our Mission

At Sandy Ripple or goal is to spread a message. In order for us to continue to spread a message, and spread it even further, we've created a way to share with others who love turtles and a way to also support associations who know the best places to put those dollars to work.

If you'd like to become part of the ripple, click this link to shop our collection of apparel.

A portion of all the proceeds goes to sea turtle groups and organizations, so they can use those dollars where its needed most.

 



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