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.
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