Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle
Chelonia mydas
Facts About Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle
Weight: 300-350 lbs
Length: 3 feet

Lifespan: unknown; sexual maturity occurs between 20-50 years

Diet: seagrasses and algae
Behavior: females return to same beaches where they were born, every 2-4 summers to lay eggs

The East Pacific green turtle is listed as endangered throughout its range. This regionally important population of the green turtle has exhibited an extreme decline over the last 30 years. This population decline is attributed to severe overharvest of wintering turtles in the Sea of Cortez between 1950 and 1970, the intense collection of eggs between 1960 and early 1980 on mainland beaches of Mexico, nesting habitat destruction, and incidental capture in commercial fisheries. Primary threats to the species in U.S. waters are from entanglement in debris, boat collisions, fisheries bycatch, and entrainment in coastal power plants.

The East Pacific green turtle is distinguished from the green turtle mainly by size, coloration and carapace shape. The carapace of the adult East Pacific green turtle is narrower, morestrongly vaulted and more indented over the rear flippers than that of the green turtle. The East Pacific green turtle is also conspicuously smaller and lighter than the green turtle. The East Pacific green turtle has a heart-shaped shell, small head, and single-clawed flippers. The adult carapace is smooth, keel-less, and light to dark brown with dark mottling, with whitish to light yellow plastron. Adults feed almost exclusively on sea grasses, including eelgrass, and marine algae.

Although they do not nest as far north as the California coast, Pacific green turtles are often found during the summer months in waters off the coast of California, Oregon, and sometimes as far north as Alaska. Sea turtle sighting records from northern Baja California to Alaska and determined that the East Pacific green turtle was the most commonly observed hard-shelled sea turtle on the U.S. Pacific coast. Most of the sightings (62.0%) were reported from northern Baja California and southern California. The northernmost reported resident population of East Pacific green turtles occurs in San Diego Bay.

On the Seal Beach NWR, East Pacific green turtles have been observed in the 7th Street Pond, as well as the channel that extends from Anaheim Bay into the 7th Street Pond. Between 2006 and 2008, turtles were often observed in groups of two to four individuals.

The main nesting sites for the East Pacific green turtle are located in the state of Michoacán, Mexico and in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.  There is no known nesting by this species in the United States. 

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Endangered and/or Threatened species