The second name of the green sea turtle - one of the largest among sea turtles - was the eloquent "soup". Many say that they play a large role in the successful discovery and development of the New World, the Caribbean: from the 15th century, travelers who set off for great discoveries began mass extermination of reptiles.
Hundreds of turtles were slaughtered to replenish supplies of food, having piled and dried meat, often they were simply loaded on board in order to have fresh “canned food” for soup. Tortoise soup is now a gourmet dish. And green sea turtles as a species are on the verge of extinction.
Description of the Green Turtle
The largest sea turtles are very beautiful in the natural environment, when they graze in coastal waters in dense algae or cut through the water surface with powerful forepaws equipped with flippers. A huge carapace of shields of green or brown with yellow color perfectly masks and protects them from predators.
The rounded shell of the green turtle is oval. In adults, it can reach a record length of 2 meters, but the usual average size is 70 - 100 cm. The structure of the shell is unusual: it all consists of adjacent shields, has a more intense color on top, is covered with shields and has a small reptile head. Eyes with round pupils are large enough and have an almond-shaped shape.
It is interesting! Flippers allow turtles to swim and move overland, each of the limbs has a claw.
The weight of the average individual is 80-100 kg, specimens weighing 200 kg are not uncommon. But the record weight of the sea green turtle is 400 and even 500 kilograms. The color of the shell depends on the place where the turtle was born and grows. It can be either swamp, dirty green, or brown, with uneven yellow spots. But the skin has a green tint and the fat accumulating under the shell on the inside, thanks to which dishes from turtles have a special aftertaste.
Sea turtles rarely live in colonies; they prefer a solitary lifestyle. But for several centuries, researchers have been puzzled by the phenomenon of sea turtles, which are perfectly oriented in the directions of the currents of the sea depths, are able to gather on a particular day on one of the beaches in order to lay eggs.
After several decades, they are able to find the beach on which they once hatched, it is there that they will lay their eggs, even if they have to overcome thousands of kilometers.
Sea turtles are non-aggressive, trusting, try to stay near the shore, where the depth does not reach 10 meters. Here they are heated on the surface of the water, can get out to land to take sun baths, eat algae. Turtles breathe lightly, inhaling it every 5 minutes from the surface.
But in a state of rest or sleep, green turtles may not emerge for several hours. Powerful forelimbs - flippers, more like oars, help them move at a speed of up to 10 kilometers per hour, so swimmers and green turtles are not bad.
Hardly hatched from eggs, babies hurry along the sand to the water. Not everyone can even get to the surf line, since birds, small predators, and other reptiles and reptiles prey on crumbs with soft shells. Easy prey is represented by the kids on the shore, but they are not safe in the water either.
Therefore, the first years of life, until the shell hardens, the turtles spend in the depths of the sea, carefully masking themselves. At this time, they feed not only on plant foods, but also on jellyfish, plankton, mollusks, and crustaceans.
It is interesting! The older the turtle, the closer to shore they prefer to live. Gradually changing and nutrition, becoming "vegetarian."
More than 10 colonies of green turtles are known in the world, each of which has its own peculiarities. Some are constantly wandering, following the warm currents, some are able to winter in their native places, "basking" in the coastal silt.
Some scientists propose to separate into separate subspecies the population of green turtles that live in certain latitudes. This happened with Australian turtles.
The most dangerous for turtles are the first years in which the kids are almost defenseless. Many of the turtles are unable to live for several hours to get to the water. However, having acquired a hard shell, green turtles become less vulnerable. The average lifespan of marine green turtles in the natural environment is 70-80 years. In captivity, these turtles live much less, because people cannot recreate their natural habitat.
The Atlantic green turtle has a wide and flat shell, prefers to live in the coastal zone of North America, and is also found near the European coastline.
The Pacific East lives, as a rule, on the shores of California, Chile, you can meet them even off the coast of Alaska. This subspecies can be distinguished by a narrow and high carapace of dark color (brown with yellow).
The Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the waters of the tropics and subtropics become home to marine green turtles. You can watch them in the Netherlands, and in some parts of the UK, and in South African territories. Like centuries ago, reptiles do not leave the coastal zone of North and South America, although now these amazing marine inhabitants are much smaller. There are green turtles and off the coast of Australia.
It is interesting! Depth up to 10 meters, well-warmed water, lots of algae and a rocky bottom - that’s all that attracts turtles, makes this or that section of the world's oceans attractive.
In rocky crevices, they hide from their pursuers, rest, caves become their home for a year or several years. Wherever they live and eat, moving from place to place, guided by instincts, something makes them return again and again to their native beaches, where they are simply followed by a barbaric hunt. Turtles are excellent swimmers who are not afraid of long distances, big travel lovers.
Green Turtle Eating
As soon as the turtles saw the light, obeying ancient instincts, they strive as deep as possible. It is there, among corals, sea reefs, and many algae that they are threatened by a minimum number of people seeking to eat their inhabitants of land and water. Enhanced growth makes them absorb not only vegetation, but also mollusks, jellyfish, crustaceans. Young green turtles and worms readily eat.
After 7-10 years, the soft shell hardens, getting to delicious meat is becoming increasingly difficult for birds and many predatory fish. Therefore, turtles without fear rush closer and closer to the shore, to the sun-warmed water and diverse vegetation, not only aquatic, but also coastal. By the time green turtles become sexually mature, they completely switch to plant foods and remain vegetarians until old.
Thalassian and zoster turtles are especially fond of turtles, whose dense thickets at a depth of 10 meters are often called pastures. Reptiles do not refuse from kelp. They can be found near the coast at high tide, with pleasure absorbing juicy earthy vegetation.
Breeding and offspring
Green turtles become sexually mature after 10 years. You can distinguish the sex of a marine inhabitant much earlier. The males of both subspecies are already lower than the females; the carapace is flatter. The main difference is the tail, which is longer for boys, it reaches 20 cm.
Mating of males and females occurs in water. From January to October, females and males attract attention by issuing various sounds similar to singing. Several males fight for the female, several individuals can also fertilize her. Sometimes this is not enough for one, but for several clutches. Mating lasts several hours.
The female goes on a long journey, overcoming thousands of kilometers to get to safe beaches - nesting, only once every 3-4 years. There, having climbed ashore at night, the turtle digs a hole in the sand in a secluded place.
It is interesting! In this nest, in a well-warmed place, it lays up to 100 eggs, and then falls asleep in sand and levels the soil so that the offspring do not become easy prey for lizards, monitor lizards, rodents and birds.
In just one season, an adult turtle is able to make 7 clutches, each of which will have from 50 to 100 eggs. Most of the nests will be ruined, not all kids are destined to see the light.
After 2 months and several days (incubation of eggs of turtles - from 60 to 75 days), small turtles with claws will destroy the shell of the leathery egg and get to the surface. They will need to cover a distance of up to 1 km, separating them from saving sea water. It is in the nesting places that birds settle that prey on newly hatched babies, so there are many dangers waiting for turtles.
Having reached the water, the kids not only swim on their own, but also use islands of aquatic plants, clinging to them or climbing to the very top, under the rays of the sun. At the slightest danger, turtles dive and trap and quickly go to depth. Toddlers are independent from the moment of birth and do not need parental care.
Until 10 years of age, turtles are in danger literally everywhere. They can become prey for predatory fish, gulls, fall into the teeth of sharks, dolphins, and large crustaceans will enjoy them. But adult turtles have almost no enemies in nature, they are only sharks in the teeth, the rest of her shell is too tough. Therefore, for millennia, these inhabitants of the oceans have not had enemies capable of destroying adults.
The existence of this species has been put at risk by humans.. Not only meat, but also eggs are considered a delicacy, and a strong carapace becomes an excellent material for souvenirs, which is why they began to destroy large numbers of green sea turtles. At the beginning of the last century, scientists sounded the alarm, realizing that green turtles are on the verge of extinction.
Value for man
Delicious tortoise soup, amazing and healthy tortoise eggs, salted, dried and cured meats are served in the best restaurants as a delicacy. During the years of colonization and the discovery of new lands thanks to sea turtles, hundreds of sailors managed to survive. But People do not know how to be grateful, the barbaric destruction for centuries today has forced humanity to talk about saving green turtles. Both subspecies are listed in the Red Book and protected.
Population and species status
Thousands of individuals climbed onto beaches in places where turtles laid their eggs for centuries. Now on the island of Midway, for example, only forty females are building shelters for babies. On other beaches, the situation is no better. That is why, since the middle of the last century, work has begun to restore the population of green turtles in almost all countries where these animals live.
It is interesting! Turtles are listed in the Red Book, it is forbidden to conduct any activity in the nesting places, hunt them and get eggs.
Tourists cannot approach them in the reserves closer than 100 meters. The laid eggs are placed in incubators, and the hatched turtles are released into safe waters only when they get stronger. Today, the number of green turtles suggests that the species will not disappear from the face of the Earth.