How to Identify Green Sea Turtles
If you've ever been scuba diving you might get excited over seeing a turtle. The better you get, the more turtles you see and eventually you start to identify a Green Sea Turtle, a Loggerhead, or a Hawksbill turtle. If you're really lucky, you might encounter a Kemps-Ridley or maybe even a Leatherback.
Identifying a Green Sea Turtle
Loggerhead and Green turtles are similar, but here are some differences you might be able to quickly see as you glide past a sea turtle on your dive:
- Number of scutes.
- A green sea turtle has 4 lateral scutes
- A loggerhead turtle has 5 lateral scutes
- Number of claws
- A green sea turtle has 1 claw on each front flipper
- A loggerhead turtle has 2 claws on each front flipper
- Head size
- A green sea turtle has a smaller, rounder head
- A loggerhead turtle has a larger head
These three things will help you decipher which turtle you encounter.
Though you might encounter many turtles on your dive in a particular area, you should know that sea turtles are actually endangered. Many programs are in place to help protect sea turtles, and in fact - divers are a catalyst to help.
These sea turtles are endangered:
- Olive Ridley - vulnerable (most common with over 800,000 nesting females)
- Leatherback - vulnerable
- Green - endangered
- Loggerhead - endangered
- Hawksbill - critically endangered
- Flatbacks - endangered
- Kemps Ridley (most endangered with less than 2,500 nesting females)
Divers can help turtles through several means:
- Loving turtles - talking about them and encouraging others to do the same
- Diving - marine parks are often funded by dive tourism to support marine life such as turtles and their habitats
- Funding - many divers are large advocates for sea turtle program funding
- Tagging - citizen scientist programs are available to help tag and track turtles to protect their habitats
- Clean up - divers help clean the oceans, mangroves, beaches and waterways
- First aid - divers and boaters can spot turtles in need of assistance and help notify the proper turtle authorities to help
Next time you dive with a sea turtle, remember - you are encountering an endangered species! And, you have an opportunity to advocate for them - now, go diving!