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Turtle, Green Sea

The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is one of the largest and most widespread of all the marine turtles. The oval carapace varies from olive to brown, grey and black with bold streaks and blotches, but the common name, green turtle, is derived from the green colour of the fat and connective tissues of this species. Twosubspecies are traditionally recognised; the Pacific green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii) tends to be smaller than its Atlantic cousin (C. m. mydas) with a narrower carapace that may sometimes be completely black, providing the other common name of 'black turtle' to certain populations. The plastron, or undershell, of the green turtle remains a pale yellow or orange throughout life. Males are generally smaller than females, and the green sea turtle differs in appearance from other marine turtles by the possession of a single pair of scales in front of the eyes and a serrated bottom jaw. The tiny black hatchlings are only around 5 centimetres long. Some green sea turtle populations in Brazil migrate 2,250 km to get to breeding grounds on Ascension Island. Green sea turtle hatchlings have a special ‘egg tooth’ which they use to break out of the egg. Green sea turtles take between 26 and 40 years to become reproductively mature, the longest of any sea turtle.

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