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Green Sea Turtles: Ambassadors for the Sea

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Saint Martin is a small island in the Caribbean, around 87 square kilometers in size. Martin National Nature Reserve is where you can find other local green sea turtles and me hanging out in the shallow and sunny coastal waters. We green sea turtles can be found in most oceans between 30° North and 30° South latitude, and our species especially loves the warm, shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical seas. Our average lifespan is 60-70 years, and we spend our entire lives in the ocean, with only the females going ashore to lay eggs. Our species is relatively large compared to other sea turtle types, growing up to 1.5 meters long, and weighing as much as 315 kilograms. There is a slight difference in size between males and females, with males being slightly bigger, and with a longer tail. Although we have no teeth, our finely serrated jaws are perfect for ripping up and chewing seagrass and algae.

Our presence helps keep the ocean healthy and the coral reefs thriving. You can find us grazing in the St. Martin National Nature Reserve’s offshore seagrass beds. We only eat the leaves and don’t touch the roots, and this improves the health of the beds. Healthy seagrass beds provide a wonderful home for the fish and crustaceans who feed there.

If the oceans had no green sea turtles, entire ecosystems would be affected, and the sea would be much less diverse. We are very pleased with our efforts to help balance nature! However, due to global warming, our species is facing a crisis. Female green sea turtles now vastly outnumber males. In the northern portion of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, home to one of the biggest populations of green sea turtles globally with 200,000 nesting females, 99% of hatchlings are female. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are in lockdown or have restricted their activities. Thus, sea turtles have returned to nest on peaceful beaches, and new hatchlings head towards the ocean without being disturbed. The lesson the pandemic is teaching us is that everything is connected. So, protecting us animals, and leaving us in peace, will safeguard humanity.

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