The green sea turtle is your “poster child” sea turtle, if you will. They are the most commonly recognized species because of their beauty. Surprisingly, their shells and skin are not green as the name might imply – their coloration is more of a brown/yellow/white mixture. They are called green turtles because their fat is green. Green sea turtles are the only species in which the adults are completely herbivorous (vegetarian) and eat primarily sea grass. Green juveniles are carnivorous like other species, though, and their digestive system actually changes as they mature to allow for this dietary shift. Green turtles’ large intestines actually double in length in order to digest the plant material properly. Because of all the vegetation they eat, their FAT is actually green – which is how they got their name. They can be distinguished from other similar looking species by looking at the scales on their head. Between the eyes, they have a pair of scales where other turtles only have one or several. Their scales are well defined and dark. They are also the only species with jagged edges on their lower beak, these act as pruning shears to take bites of grass.
With an average depth of only 3 feet, the Florida Bay is home to a number of marine populations, as well as a vital nursery ground for commercial and recreational reef fish species. The Florida Bay also plays host to a group of NOAA researchers who are investigating how habitat changes in Florida Bay are impacting juvenile sportfish populations, with a focus on the spotted seatrout. The study aims to examine the relationship between juvenile spotted seatrout abundance, salinity, temperature, and seagrass, and use the data to quantify and predict the impacts of Everglades Restoration.