New Caledonia, Coral Sea, South Pacific
The green sea turtles are among the creatures keeping us more or less daily company in the New Caledonian lagoon.
An appreciated company they are and we very much enjoy watching these cute and charming beings from the boat and underwater.
Of 7 sea turtle species worldwide, there are 4 species known to occur in New Caledonia, of which the green sea turtle is the most abundant.
They are among the largest species of sea turtle, with an average
length of around 80-120 centimeter. One of the larger green sea turtles known
measured 153 centimeters and had a weight of 395 kilograms.
Peaceful beings they are, commonly found in seagrass meadows and around coral reefs. Their diet changes with age, the first few years of a green sea turtle’s
life are spent in open water, where they feed on plankton,
crustaceans, jellyfish and fish eggs. As they grow older, they move to
shallower waters along the coast, such as bays and lagoons, where they
mainly feed on marine plants such as seagrass and algaes.
Similar to other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between their feeding grounds and their mating-nesting sites, with recorded distances longer than 2,600 kilometres. Mature turtles often return to the exact beach from which they hatched.
Their ability to return to their birthplace is known as natal homing. Females usually return to their hatching beach every two to five years, whereas the males may make the journey annually.
After mating, the female crawls up on the beach at night. She digs a hole in the sand where the eggs are laid and well covered. The female seems to be doing this 3 to 5 times in one season.
It takes about 2 months before the eggs start to hatch and it is time for the small baby turtles to take the dangerous trip to the ocean. They find their way by heading toward the brightest direction. On a natural beach, this direction is the light of the open horizon.
Turtles can rest underwater for several hours at a time, but their underwater time is much shorter when diving for food or escaping predators. They usually cruise in slow speed around 3 km/h, but if threatened these amazing creatures can reach a speed of up to 35km/h.
Some are more shy than others and in general we se more relaxed individuals in the marine protected areas of the lagoon,
where there also is a bigger change to get a curious encounter. Sure
thing is that I love every moment spent with these special and