Green Sea Turtles

Making a big comeback in Florida

Biology Current Events

Green Sea Turtle
Green sea turtles
(Chelonia mydas) are listed as endangered by the IUCN.
Tagging a loggerhead turtle
Tagging a loggerhead turtle at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. Sea turtles usually come ashore to lay eggs only at night. Photo: John and Karen Hollingsworth

Endangered green sea turtles are making a huge comeback along the central Florida coast.


Researchers this week have counted 12,026 nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge along the Broward County coastline. That number exceeds the 2013 record of 11,839 nests, and will likely grow, since there are two more weeks of nesting this year.

“Back in the 1980s the beaches UCF monitored hosted less than 50 green turtle nests a year,” said Kate Mansfield, a UCF assistant professor of biology. “It is a really remarkable recovery and reflects a ‘perfect storm’ of conservation successes—from the establishment of the Archie Carr, to implementing the Endangered Species Act, among many other conservation initiatives. It will be very exciting to see what happens over the next 20 plus years.”

Mansfield leads the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Central Florida. The team of students and research scientists monitor turtle counts on the beach during turtle nesting season, May to October. They have been monitoring all turtle nests on the 13-mile stretch of beach — the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge — for more than 30 years.

There are two other kinds of endangered turtles that use the Carr Refuge for nesting. Leatherbacks and loggerheads also come to Florida’s beaches, which support about 80 percent of all sea turtle nesting in the United States. Designated as a national wildlife refuge in 1991, Archie Carr has one of the largest nesting beaches for loggerhead turtles in the Western Hemisphere.

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This story was based on information obtained from the University of Florida. Source >>

About Chelonia mydas: For the most part adult green sea turtles eat marine plant life. Young turtles have a more carnivorous diet. Green turtles grow to a length of about five feet (1.5 m). Adults usually weigh in the range of 150–419 pounds (68–190 kg). Big individuals can weigh more. The largest known C. mydas: tipped in at 871 pounds (395 kg). Its carapace alone was a full five feet long. You can tell a green turtle from the closely related Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) because the green turtle's snout is very short and its beak is unhooked. (Moreover, you're a lot more likely to see a green turtle, because E. imbricata is critically endangered.)

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