Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle, Big Island, Hawaii

Green Sea Turtle, Big Island, Hawaii

The green sea turtle is the most common turtle found in the Hawaiian Islands.  Hawaiians call this ancient reptile honu.


Chelonia mydas can be found in many tropical places around the world.  Although they are titled “green” they are not that color.  The turtle’s color varies depending on where they are in the world, and/or what stage of life they are in.  Their name originates from the green-colored fat beneath its carapace (shell).


Although their conservation status is listed as endangered, they are easy to spot in the Hawaiian Islands. Primarily vegetarian, their diet is  kelp and algae, and can be seen foraging on land and sea.


Hunting, poaching, fishers’ nets, pollution, and habitat destruction contribute to the sea turtle’s demise, but there are also many protective laws and organizations dedicated to this creature’s survival.  Green sea turtle overview here.


They are quite awkward on land, lugging their heavy body (200 pounds and more, 90 kg) across the sand and rocks.  But when they are underwater, they are in their element.


Honaunau Bay, Big Island of Hawaii

Honaunau Bay, Big Island, HI. I always see green sea turtles here.

Green sea turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time, but they must breathe air.


Turtle symbolism is well known in many cultures, including Aesop’s Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Patience and pacing are the messages of turtle.


Snorkeling always stirs and thrills me:  finding new creatures, the vast array of fish and bright colors, getting accustomed to the rocking water, and sometimes its chill.  But when the turtle swims near me, I am instantly calmed, watching this magnificent creature swim, glide, nibble, float and drift off.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

54 thoughts on “Green Sea Turtle

  1. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be underwater with these beautiful creatures swimming so close – what am incredibly wonderful experience for you! 🙂

    • Without a big underwater camera, the underwater turtle photos never come out as brilliant as one would like. So it’s great when the turtles come out for a photo op. Thank you Cindy! 😀

  2. A wonderful journey with the Green Sea Turtle in the Hawaiian blue waters,dear Jet!Adorable creatures,it’s amazing how their colour is adjusted to the environment they live in and their age.Athena’s photos are marvellous,she perfectly captured it amongst the rocks!I can imagine you marvelling at the underwater sea-treasures and swimming along with the turtles.

    Since you surfaced the Greek Aesop’s Fable,I’ll surface the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta from Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea.An endangered species with a red-brown shell and a big head reaching up to 1,25 m in height and 180 kilos in weight.It’s considered one of the oldest forms of life on our planet.
    Fortunatly,a series of measures and laws protect Caretta-Caretta and their little ones.Enough of my ramblings,many thanks for the exciting post you shared with us!Have a brilliant day,my friend 🙂

  3. Gentle animals with a vulnerable existence in land or sea. They do need help from humans for them to survive. Let’s not pollute the oceans or the land. Thank you my friend for your blog and reminder about society neglect! 🙂

  4. We saw some turtles at the beach of Big Island. Our tour guide said that someone kicked a turtle, who was fined a couple of thousands of dollars. Good to learn about the green sea turtle. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Jet!

    • wow, can’t imagine kicking a sea turtle, so sick. But I am really glad to hear they got a big fine. Thanks so much for sharing your HI sea turtle story, Amy — many, many thanks! 😀

  5. We were lucky to see one of these when snorkelling on Maui this winter. They are absolutely magnificent. Like you mention – it looked very graceful in the water.

    • Great comment Sherry! I recently saw a 1957 Bellafonte film called “Island in the Sun.” I was aghast when there was a spectacular and festive scene, and in it the islanders brought large turtles in from the sea and prepared them for slaughter. It was a very different time, in regard to wild sea turtles. So I think you can rest easy on yourself, Sherry, things were different in the 50s. Thanks so much. 😀 😀

  6. This sea turtle is a wonderful creature! I’ve met a few of them snorkeling too. Unfortunately I’ve also found a couple of dead ones on the beach over the years.

  7. It’s so surprising that they’re so graceful in the water, yes? We stayed on Makaha Beach on Oahu and the lagoon was informally known as Turtle Beach…and rightfully named. They were impressive.

    • We are so lucky to have a strong population of sea turtles in Hawaii. How wonderful that you go to see them on Oahu. And yes, so utterly graceful in the water — a true joy. Thank you so much! 😀 😀

  8. Great post, Jet. I love turtle symbolism. Some Native American groups have the mythology that Turtle was the Great Earth Mother and carried the world on her back.
    Wishing you a wonder-filled, and burden-free week. Hugs.

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