Hawaiian green sea turtles
Sea turtles

Hawaiian green sea turtles

By: Johan

Hawaiian green sea turtles – Classification
Green sea turtles are found throughout the world’s oceans, and even though the physical characteristics vary somewhat depending on geographical location they are all considered members of the same species: Chelonia mydas. There exists two recognized subspecies of Chelonia mydas: Chelonia mydas mydas and Chelonia mydas agassizii. Chelonia mydas mydas is commonly referred to as the Atlantic green turtle, while Chelonia mydas agassizii is known as the Eastern Pacific green turtle. The Hawaiian green sea turtles are believed to be a genetically isolated variant of the Eastern Pacific green turtles but they are not recognized as a separate subspecies.

Hawaiian green sea turtles – Distribution
Unlike many other Green sea turtles that travel vast distances during the course of their life, the Hawaiian green sea turtles are believed to stay within Hawaiian waters throughout their entire life. More research is however needed before we can be sure about what is really going on deep down in the ocean and how the Hawaiian green sea turtles actually spend their long lives. The water around the main Hawaiian islands is a feeding area for juvenile and adult Hawaiian green sea turtles. Studies show that approximately 90 percent of the Hawaiian green sea turtle population uses the Northwestern Hawaiian islands as nesting grounds.

Hawaiian green sea turtles – Fibropapilloma
Recent research has shown that nearly 50 percent of the Hawaiian green sea turtles are affected by a disease named fibropapilloma (FP). The cause of the disease remains unknown, it is more commonly occurring in regions highly affected by human activity. It is therefore reasonable to suspect that pollutants or habitat change promote fibropapilloma is some way. Another plausible theory claims that blood parasites may play an important role in the development of fibropapilloma. The visible manifestation of the disease is tumours that form around the eyes, mouth, flippers and neck of the Hawaiian green sea turtle. The tumours can grow as big as grapefruits and become lethal if they prevent the Hawaiian green sea turtles from breathing, seeing or eating. 

Hawaiian green sea turtles – Mating
The Hawaiian green sea turtles are sensitive to predation and human intrusion since they do not reach sexual maturity until they are very old. Some specimens will start to reproduce when they are “only” 25 years old, but it is not uncommon for Hawaiian green sea turtles to be 50 years or more when they start producing offspring.

Sexually mature Hawaiian green sea turtles will migrate from the feeding grounds to the nesting grounds to breed. One of the most popular nesting grounds for the Hawaiian green sea turtles are the French Frigate Shoals that are situated approximately 800 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian islands. An individual female will only nest every 2-4 years, while the male Hawaiian green sea turtles are believed to visit the breeding grounds every year. The males will already have arrived to the breeding area when the females turn up. The mating season for the Hawaiian green sea turtles begins in March and the actual mating takes place in the waters near the nesting beaches. Nesting will then take place over the course of several months, from April throughout September.


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