• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Monthly Archives: November 2021

Green turtle pays a visit to Gorontalo reefs

Green turtle is a species only occasionally seen along Gorontalo’s dense coral reefs. Adult green turtles are strictly vegetarian and so live near sea grass flats. Those seen at Gorontalo dive sites are migrating between sea grass areas in western Gorontalo to those in North Sulawesi Province. Divers will usually see Hawksbill turtles here.

Green Turtle Identification

green turtle on reef
The beautiful shell pattern of Green turtle

Both Green and Hawksbill turtles have similar appearances. However, certain features help identify both species. Green turtles have a single pair of large scales between their eyes. These are called prefrontal scales. Hawksbills have two pairs of small scales. Also, a hawksbill turtle has a distinctive hook on its beak, whereas a green turtle will have a rounded beak. Green turtles have smooth shells with smooth edges, whereas a hawksbill’s shell edges will be clearly serrated, especially towards the tail. Lastly, an adult Green turtle has a single claw on each front flipper, whereas a Hawksbill turtle will have two. Oftentimes, the shell of a green turtle will be highly polished with visible patterning.

Worldwide, Green turtles can grow up to a meter and a half in length. Also, they can weigh up to 400 kilograms. Those found in Indonesia are usually no longer than one meter.

Although baby green turtles eat a variety of things, adults shift to a plant diet. That means they eat mainly sea grass and marine algae. The common name green turtle comes from the fact that the fat found under this turtle’s shell is distinctively green in color. Scientists suspect the color is a result of the vegetarian diet. Also, this turtle’s scientific name is Chelonia mydas.

Moreover, should a diver notice the tail of a Green turtle, that turtle will be male. Only a male’s tail is long enough to protrude from under its shell.  

Breathing in Sea Turtles

Divers know that sea turtles spend most of their lives underwater. However, they must breathe oxygen from the air. While traveling to dive sites in Gorontalo, guests might notice when a turtle’s head breaks the surface. One breath is enough to exhale stale air and replace it with fresh air. A green turtle will dive for about four to five minutes. Then it will surface for a couple of seconds to catch a breath. Divers should never interfere with sea turtles while trying to breathe. Sea turtles will sleep in a safe place. During sleep, respiration slows considerably.

Nesting Sea Turtles

turtle on the reef
Pausing on a Gorontalo reef

A female sea turtle will reach forty to sixty years in age before laying her first eggs. Breeding females will lay eggs every two years. They will lay these every two to three weeks. They lay 50 to 150 eggs each time.

The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchlings. Research on green turtles find that higher temperatures produce males, whereas lower temperatures produce females. Scientists worry that rising ocean temperatures from climate change will result in too few female green turtles.

A female sea turtle will crawl onto a sandy beach at night. Then she will dig a hole to lay eggs and recover them. Scientists believe they return to the beach of their birth to lay eggs.

Baby turtles will hatch about two months of incubation. They will usually hatch about the same time. Then they crawl as quickly as possible to the sea. Many predators from birds to large fish eat baby sea turtles. The chances of surviving to adulthood are very small. Humans still collect eggs and hunt sea turtles. This is illegal in Indonesia.

Although land turtles can pull head and flippers inside the shell, sea turtles cannot.

For your chance to see a green turtle in Gorontalo, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

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