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... about green sea turtles

Green Sea Turtles ... Dinosaurs?

The green sea turtle is one of the most ancient creatures. They have lived on Earth a very long time with estimates of 150 million years and even more. They are one of the few species of animal that has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.

Green Sea Turtles ... Reptiles?

The green sea turtle is a reptile and so is cold blooded. This means that they get their body heat from the environment rather than making their own. Because of this, they live in tropical and sub-tropical waters. 

Holding Your Breath

They breathe air and so cannot breathe underwater. They can hold their breath though for a long time and do this for more than two hours and up to five hours when sleeping underwater. When they are swimming they need to surface every few minutes to breathe.

Green Sea Turtles are Heavy

They are large and weighty (among the largest sea turtles in the world and weighing up to 300 kilograms) and have a wide smooth carapace, or shell. 

Not Necessarily a Green Shell

Green Sea Turtles are named for the greenish colour of it’s body fat and skin, not it’s shell which is usually brown or olive depending on its habitat. 

Males vs Females

Males have a longer, thicker tail and are slightly larger in size than females. 

Strong Paddlers

Their flippers resemble paddles and make them strong and powerful swimmers.

Carnivore or Herbivore?

When young, the green sea turtle eats invertebrates such as crabs, jellyfish and sponges as well as seagrasses and algae. Once they become adults however, they become solely herbivorous feeding only on plants and seagrasses so they are not a threat to any other marine animals.

Big Travellers

Like other sea turtles, the green sea turtles take big trips of up to 3000 kilometres from where they roam and feed to where they nest.  The females' nesting grounds are usually on sandy beaches and are often the same place used by their own mothers. This means that they return to where they were born to do their own nesting. 

The Mysterious Magnetic Force

The magnetic pull which draws the turtle back to the beach where they were born is based on their use of the Earth’s magnetic fields. It is thought that this acts as a guiding map which draws them back to where they began their life from an encoded piece of magnetic information which they collect as they hatch from their nest and make their way to the sea.

It Takes a Long Time to Become a Mother

A sea turtle mother's first nesting typically occurs sometime during or after the second decade of their life i.e. once they are twenty or more years old.

Seagrass Beds

Sea turtles play an important part in keeping ecosystems healthy. They eat seagrass that grows on the sea floor. Seagrass needs to be constantly cut short to help it spread and grow across the sea floor. By grazing on the seagrass meadows, the sea turtle cuts the seagrass short and so helps to make sure that there is plenty of healthy seagrass beds. These are then used by many other fish, shellfish and crustaceans for breeding. Without seagrass beds, many marine animals that we like to eat would be lost and then not available to provide us with food.

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... other interesting facts from Book 1

The Carapace and the Plastron

The carapace is the hard bony-plated shell on the turtle’s back. This along with another shell which cover’s their belly underneath them (called the plastron), acts as a protective shield for most species of turtles, including the green sea turtle. Unlike other turtles, the green sea turtle is not able to pull its head back into its shell.

Soft Rubbery Shells

Leatherback turtles can grow very large, as big as 2 metres in length and up to 900 kilograms in weight. They are the world’s largest ocean going turtles. They are also the only turtles with soft, rubbery shells.

A Healthy Noisy Reef

A healthy reef is one where there is lots of brightly coloured coral and plenty of marine life, both plants and animals. It is now thought that a healthy reef is also a noisy reef as all the sea creatures are being active and communicating within and perhaps even between species.

The Problem with Warming Oceans

Coral bleaching occurs when the sea's water is too warm. The corals will then expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is why it is called coral bleaching.

The Moon's Phases

An easy way to understand the moon cycle is in this order: new moon and full moon, first quarter and third quarter, and the phases in between.


The new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun and the entire illuminated portion of the moon is on the back side of the moon, the half that we cannot see.


At a full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are in approximate alignment, just as the new moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth, so the entire sunlit part of the moon is facing us. The shadowed portion is entirely hidden from our view.


The first quarter and third quarter moons (both often called a "half-moon"), happen when the moon is at a 90 degree angle with respect to the earth and sun. So we are seeing exactly half of the moon illuminated and half in shadow.


Once you understand those four key moon phases, the phases between should be fairly easy to visualize, as the illuminated portion gradually transitions between them.


An easy way to remember and understand those "between" lunar phase names is by defining 4 words: crescent, gibbous, waxing, and waning. The word crescent refers to the phases where the moon is less than half illuminated. The word gibbous refers to phases where the moon is more than half illuminated. Waxing essentially means "growing" or expanding in illumination, and waning means "shrinking" or decreasing in illumination.



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