Green sea turtle

Chelonia mydas

Family Cheloniidae - turtle, sea

Shell oval-shaped with somewhat pointed rear; upper shell (carapace) color olive brown to black, lower shell (plastron) yellow to white; legs flipper-like; upper shell with 5-6 vertebral scutes (plates) and 4 pair of lateral scutes; larger turtles with no keel down the center of carapace; scutes do not overlap; sunburst pattern on scutes; 4 inframarginal scutes (between front and rear legs on lower shell, connect plastron and carapace) without pores; head small, not beak-like; lower jaw serrated; 1 pair of prefrontal scales (between the eyes) on head; 1 claw on each flipper.
Similar Species
Only 2 sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico have 4 lateral scutes, the green and the hawksbill sea turtles. The others have 5 or more or none. The hawksbill sea turtle has overlapping scutes, 2 prefrontal scales and a distinct overbite. The green sea turtle is the only sea turtle in the Gulf with 1 pair of prefrontal scales and without a beaked mouth.
Gulf and bay
Maximum Size
1.2 cm (4 ft)
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
Its name is derived from the color of its fat.




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