Galapagos Wildlife Spotlight – The Galapagos Green Turtle
The Galapagos Green Turtle is a subspecies of the green sea turtle that is found in many different places throughout the world, including the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Hawaii. The Galapagos version is typically smaller (though still reaching lengths of around 4 feet for full-grown adults) and darker in color than those found in other regions of the world, and they nest only in the Galapagos Islands.
Females nest and lay eggs from December to June along many Galapagos beaches, and Galapagos cruise passengers are made aware of these areas by the naturalist guides so as not to disturb the nests. Male sea turtles are larger than females and do not leave the sea like the females do. Males also have a longer tail than the females, making this the easiest way to identify one from the other while in the water.
They are an endangered species. Man has been the main culprit in the continuing decline of green sea turtle populations throughout the world, through overhunting and habitat destruction. Many conservation efforts are in place, though the population unfortunately continues to decrease.
However, even without human interference (such as in the Galapagos Islands where they are protected), the green turtle faces difficult odds of making the full journey from egg to hatchling to adolescent to adulthood: the Green Turtle is the classic underdog story…the “Rudy” of Galapagos reptiles.
From the minute its mother lays the egg, the odds of survival stacked heavily against the Green Turtle. Predators abound, from rats that will eat unhatched eggs, to the birds who swoop down for a meal while freshly-hatched babies make their mad dash from the beach to the ocean, to sharks and other underwater predators who pose a major threat through adolescence, the chances of making it to full adulthood are slim from day one for this peaceful sea creature.
Green sea turtles are fantastic to snorkel with. As is the case with most of the Galapagos’ creatures, they seem oblivious to humans (except for the playful sea lions, which actually get a kick out of interaction with people). This makes for exceptional opportunities to swim alongside the sea turtles when snorkeling or scuba diving. They gracefully move through the blue-green waters, seemingly in a slow-motion underwater flight, and snorkeling amongst a group of them is a remarkably serene experience.
These magnificent creatures can hold their breath underwater for upwards of 20 minutes when resting and not under stress of any kind. Activity and stress levels greatly reduce the turtle’s ability to hold its breath.
Where can you see the Galapagos Green Turtle?
The Green Turtle can be seen in many different areas in the Galapagos, but particularly excellent places to see them (especially while snorkeling or diving) include Punta Vicente Roca off Isabela island and other areas of Isabela, the beaches and coastlines of Floreana (especially during nesting season), the shorelines of Santa Cruz, including Puerto Ayora and Tortuga Bay, San Cristobal and Rabida.
Recommended cruises for “Green Turtle-heavy” experiences (click to view the boats):
– Ocean Spray (Itinerary A or the 5 night / 6 day “A” Itinerary ). – Eclipse (Itinerary B or the 4 night / 5 day cruise option). – Coral I & II (Itinerary C+D or Itinerary D). – Eric/Flamingo/Letty: Either Itinerary. – Athala (Genovesa Itinerary or 5 night North-West Itinerary). – Mary Anne (West Itinerary) – Beagle (Northwest Itinerary)
There are also other boats and itinerary versions that will allow you excellent possibilities for Green Turtle viewing, and please do not hesitate to inquire with one of our destination specialists at 800-342-1796, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.