Green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas

Federal status: Threatened

(=) Stable


Cheloniidae, a family of six sea turtle species

Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans


The green sea turtle has a large, flattened body covered by a teardrop-shaped shell (carapace). Adults may grow up to 1.5 meters long and weigh over 300 pounds. Green sea turtles generally reach sexual maturity after 25 years and may live to be up to 70 years old.

Habitat & Behavior

Adult green sea turtles spend most of their time in shallow, coastal waters with lush seagrass beds.  They eat seagrasses, algae, sponges, and the occasional invertebrate–but they are primarily herbivores, which gives their cartilage and fat the green color of their namesake.


Like all species of sea turtle, the green sea turtle is threatened by legal and illegal fishing activities (when caught in nets, they may drown), speed boat and vessel-strikes, and waste and pollution–green sea turtles may die after eating discarded balloons, plastic bags, or other plastic debris which they mistake as food. They are also susceptible to fibropapillomatosis, a disease that causes tumors.


There are a number of international laws, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, that have made it illegal to collect, harm, or kill green sea turtles. It is also important to avoid disturbing green sea turtles and their habitat however possible. You can help protect these animals by reducing and properly disposing of plastic waste, and always keeping a safe distance from turtles and their nests.

Where can you spot it?

In Los Angeles, green sea turtles may be seen between the San Gabriel River and a narrow channel that discharges warm water into the river from the Haynes Power Plant.