What Do Green Sea Turtles Eat?

Chelonia mydas green turtles (formerly called Common Green Sea Turtles or GCTs) exhibit significant variation in their diet throughout their lives, from hatchlings and juveniles feeding on carnivorous insects such as worms to adults who consume aquatic insects such as jellyfish.

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Adults of this species possess finely serrated jaws adapted for eating an herbivorous diet of seagrasses and algae. By grazing in nearshore ocean habitats, they help ensure nearshore ocean habitats remain healthy – acting like gardeners by trimming seagrasses while encouraging new growth.



Green sea turtles rely on healthy, productive seagrass meadows for food they need for reproduction and consumption, as well as nesting sites for their eggs.

Long before now, scientists knew that dugongs and other terrestrial animals boosted germination of seeds they consumed; now scientists have evidence that turtles do too!

Samantha Tol and colleagues used stable isotopes to link turtles with specific North African seagrass meadows where they’ve roamed for more than three millennia, using experimental clipping of one meadow to simulate green turtle grazing as a model; then compared their gut contents between experimentally clipped plots vs. ungrazed plots; results demonstrated that seagrass consumption dominated gravid female diets as well as non-breeding male diets.


Green sea turtles, like most species of turtles, are herbivorous. As adults, their jaws are highly serrated to aid them in munching down on algae and vegetation; thus acting like underwater lawnmowers to ensure healthy seagrass beds thrive within their ecosystem (kind of like you mowing your grass!). Their diet contributes greatly to ecosystem sustainability (just like how lawn mowers help keep grass cut!).

Green turtles at this stage in their development feed on an assortment of plant and animal matter such as worms, jellyfish, small crustaceans, invertebrates, sand shrimp eggs, debris left by humans or algae – with an excess of algae even turning the turtle’s internal fat deposits green!

The cumulative prey curve reached asymptote, signifying that most major items in the diets of green turtles stranded along the Texas coast have been well characterized and allow for more precise interpretation of diet-related trends over time.


Invertebrates, also known as soft-bodied animals, form the bottom of the food chain and provide essential nutrients to higher up predators. Furthermore, invertebrates play an essential role in maintaining an equilibrium by controlling insect populations in an ecosystem.

As newly hatched green sea turtles feed on various marine organisms like fish, jellyfish, shrimp and crabs. But as they age and move into coastal waters and reefs they will gradually shift toward herbivory as their digestive systems adapt for better absorption of plant matter.

Climate change can alter beach sand temperatures and cause more female hatchlings than males to hatch from their eggs, making it harder for these hatchlings to find partners and reproduce later in life.


Green sea turtles feed upon various marine organisms during their juvenile stage, including worms, jellyfish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. Green sea turtles tend to nest near where they were born in what’s known as “natal homing.”

Adult greens are strictly herbivorous, using their finely serrated jaws to easily consume seagrasses and algae from their surroundings. Their feeding patterns act like aquatic lawn mowers to maintain healthy seagrass beds.

The green sea turtle, an iconic and long-lived species found worldwide in warm coastal environments. Unfortunately, its population has been drastically reduced by humans through overfishing for meat and organs as well as coastal development, unmonitored beach traffic and other human activities that threaten their lives.


Green sea turtles are herbivorous animals that primarily consume aquatic vegetation and aquatic insects such as aquatic insects, worms and crustaceans. Additionally, their jaws feature finely serrated teeth to aid them in chewing.

As with other sea turtles, greens must surface periodically for oxygen intake through nostrils located on their heads. They are common in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the globe.

Green sea turtles are protected under law from being exploited, and listed as endangered or threatened in most countries around the world. Threats faced include climate change, fishing activities, egg harvesting and nest destruction.

Green sea turtles possess the unique ability to recognize their birth beach through a process called natal homing, enabling them to return each year to lay their eggs.