What's That Turtle

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Green Turtle Flying
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Green (Chelonia mydas)

The green sea turtle can reach almost 40 inches in carapace length (top shell), weigh up to 500 pounds and feeds on sea grasses. They reach sexual maturity between 20-50 years. The green is the largest of all the hard-shelled turtles. They typically nest between June and September. They do not nest on St. John. During the season they lay about five nests (clutches), one every two weeks, and it takes about two months for the eggs to hatch.
 
Hawksbill Dancing
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Hawksbill turtles are the smallest of the sea turtles that frequent our waters. A mature hawksbill will weigh between 100 - 150 pounds and measures about 25 inches in length. Female hawksbills return every two to three years to the beaches they were born on to lay their eggs. They lay three to five nests per season with about 130 eggs each. Hawksbill turtles range throughout the Caribbean, Indonesia, Mexico, and Australia. The hawksbill has a distinctive and beautiful shell (carapace). They were harvested almost to extinction for their shell, which was used to create jewelry, combs and brushes. Their diet includes sponges, other invertebrates, and algae. They can be found along rocky ledges and coral reefs where they seek shelter.
 
Leatherback Turtle
Photo by Carrie Stengel

The Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)

The leatherback is the largest of the sea turtles and gets its name from its leathery like dark grey or black shell with whitish spots. It is the only sea turtle to lack a hard shell. These pelagic (open ocean) turtles have seven distinct ridges running the length of its carapace (shell). The leatherback is typically 4 to 6 feet long and weighs 600 to 1100 pounds. The largest leatherback ever recorded was almost 10 feet long and weighed 2019 pounds. They nest every two to three years, four to seven times a season, and lay an average of only 80 eggs. The eggs take about 65 days to hatch. Leatherbacks feed on jellyfish.
 

Last updated: July 27, 2018

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1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830

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