The green turtle ranges worldwide where sea temperatures do not dip below 68 F and can be found in the coastal waters of at least 140 countries. Supplementing its diet of sea grasses and seaweeds with jellyfish and crustaceans, the green turtle is the only sea turtle to consume large quantities of plants. It is also the slowest turtle to mature, presumably because its diet is low in protein. Female green turtles mature at between 26 and 40 years of age, depending on available food sources, and can live for more than 50 years.
Because of the distance between ideal underwater pastures and breeding beaches, green turtles often migrate hundreds of miles to mate and nest. Every 2 to 3 years, females return to the beach where they were hatched to lay a clutch of approximately 100 eggs, which incubate for 2 to 3 months. Upon hatching, the young turtles dash to the sea, where many of them fall victim to predators on both land and sea.
Once a key ingredient in one of Winston Churchill’s favorite soups, London Alderman’s Soup, the culinary popularity of the green turtle has been somewhat diminished since it became internationally recognized as an endangered species. However, despite protections, it continues to be hunted for its distinctive green fat and muscle, used in soups and steaks, and its eggs. Egg collection still occurs at more than 40 percent of breeding beaches, and intentional hunting affects almost 50 percent of populations.March 03, 2011